“Then I came to them of the captivity…and I sat where they sat, and
remained there astonished among them seven days.”
What a contrast there is between Ezekiel going to the Israelites in
captivity and Job’s “friends” going to sit and grieve with him!
Job’s friends, however well intentioned, didn’t help him at all.
Their words wounded rather than healed, and their judgmental,
self-righteous assumptions about Job’s sin were totally wrong.
Knowing nothing, they thought they could speak for God about what
was wrong with Job’s life and how he should fix it. How sad.
Ezekiel, on the other hand, had just come from the presence of God,
and God had sent him on a mission and a difficult mission at that.
Ezekiel was to go to the Israelites and minister to them while they
were captives to the Babylonians. This was the beginning of
Ezekiel’s ministry, and I can only guess the misery he saw when he
So why was his reaction different from that of Job’s friends? I
think it’s because, knowing he was going to be there with them, he
“sat where they sat” (Ezekiel 3:15) And there’s going to be a world
of difference between those who look at our lives from their own
different experiences and those who are facing the same things we
How can people understand the agony of soul and the bitterness of a
broken marriage if their own marriage never struggled and failed?
How can they understand the constant fear and losses of someone with
cancer if they’ve never had a serious illness themselves? How can
they understand how the world changes when we lose a loved one if
everyone they love is alive and doing well?
The simple answer is, they can’t. Think about it a minute. Is it
fair of us to ask someone to do what we know they cannot? Does our
friend’s lack of understanding make them less a friend? Or does the
fault lie in our own unreasonable expectations? Having those
unreasonable expectations can destroy friendships and every other
kind of relationship. And it’s something we’re doing to ourselves.
That’s where individuals or a group of people sharing a common
struggle can be so helpful, and it’s why I recommend support groups
like Alanon, Overcomers, GriefShare, Bereavement Groups and others.
When my son Buddy died, my friend Marlene didn’t need to say a word.
She only came to my house and sat with me for a while. She knew what
it was like to lose a child, and I didn’t feel compelled to explain.
I also belong to a support group where some of the women have lost
children. I can talk about it or not, but either way, I know they
A friend recently told me some ladies from her church are going to
start a Sunday School class for people who love a prodigal. What an
amazing idea! It’s amazing because we can both understand and be
better understood by people who have “sat where we sat.”
I’m not talking about finding someone who will say what we want them
to say. Ezekiel had some hard things to say when he began to speak
to the captive Israelites. But he didn’t say a word until he had sat
there and identified himself with them. He “sat where they sat” and
became one with their pain.
Challenge for Today: What might happen if we, just for today,
realized some of our friends can’t understand what’s happening in
our life and reached out instead to those who can?