By Jeanette Hanscome
When I didn’t see Deanna at church, I knew something was wrong. She suffered with health problems that caused severe pain and depression. Deanna also loved the Lord and being with his people, so if she missed church, she had to be in bad shape.
“Is everything OK?”
I knew the answer was no as soon as I heard her voice over the phone. “I just couldn’t do it this week.”
Deanna had endured more than her share of suggestions for how to find relief. It hurt enough when people implied that her weight, lack of exercise, or diet might be to blame, as if she’d never considered those possibilities. When they started questioning her spiritual life, it put her over the edge.
How’s your prayer life?
Do you have any unconfessed sin in your life?
Deanna’s voice cracked as she recapped these conversations. “I have confessed everything I can think of.”
All I could do was listen, pray for her, and assure her that God knew the truth. “One of these days, when these friends are going through something difficult that they didn’t cause, they’ll understand.”
At that moment though, her friends’ accusing words only intensified Deanna’s suffering.
God Must Be Mad at You
Job had lost his home, his children, and his health. For seven days his companions grieved with him in the ashes. Then they started talking and immortalized themselves as what it means to be an insensitive friend. Instead of silent sympathy, they decided, you must have sinned!
But Job had thoroughly searched his conscience and found nothing unconfessed. He knew he was right with the living God who would one day judge the earth, including him and the very friends who accused him.
The Only Judge
When a friend is hurting, we want to help them find answers. But do our answers double as accusations?
Jesus taught, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). His words can prompt us to give friends the benefit of the doubt, knowing that God did not create us to play the role of judge, but to be ministers of his love and support.
Jeanette Hanscome is the author of many articles and four books, including Running with Roselle, cowritten with 9/11 survivor Michael Hingson, who is blind. She lives in the Bay Area and has two amazing sons.