Early on, the book of Job makes it clear that we are guilty of injustice when we put a burden of sin on a person who is suffering .
There is still greater guilt when we accuse some and not others, or show favoritism, on those involved.
If you are an individual who increases another’s suffering, you will be avoided. You will not be told what’s happening, when, how, or where. So if you get information second or third hand, the problem is likely not that it’s a false report. The problem is you. You are not safe.
What does a “safe” person look like?
A safe person doesn’t interrupt when he disagrees or doesn’t like what he’s hearing.
A safe person engages with the suffering, hears it, feels it, considers what it must be like to experience that same situation. And he sits; stays. He doesn’t seek escape or relief through humor, distractions, or theology because for that short period of time he is coming alongside and sitting in grief with the individual who has (or has had) no such comfort.
A safe person asks questions to seek understanding and gain information. “What happened next? What were you feeling? Where were the children?”
A safe person does not ask questions that bring judgment on the one suffering–“Why didn’t you (fill in the blank)? Did you try?”
The amount and type of information you receive depends on you, not the person sharing.
There is much more–however, you may be a wolf seeking to upgrade sheep’s clothing so I won’t include it here.
For those of you who don’t see or acknowledge men who use fear, confusion, force, coercion, threats, and violence to get what they want, it’s not because it’s a unicorn. It’s a horse. And you are not a safe person.
“For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend;
So that he does not abandon the fear of the Almighty.
My brothers have acted deceitfully like a wadi,
Like the torrents of wadis which drain away,
Which are darkened because of ice,
And into which the snow melts.
When they dry up, they vanish;
When it is hot, they disappear from their place.
The paths of their course wind along,
They go up into wasteland and perish.
The caravans of Tema looked,
The travelers of Sheba hoped for them.
They were put to shame, for they had trusted,
They came there and were humiliated.
Indeed, you have now become such,
You see terrors and are afraid.
Have I said, ‘Give me something,’
Or, ‘Offer a bribe for me from your wealth,’
Or, ‘Save me from the hand of the enemy,’
Or, ‘Redeem me from the hand of the tyrants’?
“Teach me, and I will be silent;
And show me how I have done wrong.
How painful are honest words!
But what does your argument prove?
Do you intend to rebuke my words,
When the words of one in despair belong to the wind?
You would even cast lots for the orphans,
And barter over your friend.
Now please look at me,
And see if I am lying to your face.
Please turn away, let there be no injustice;
Turn away, my righteousness is still in it.
Is there injustice on my tongue?
Does my palate not discern disasters?” (Job 6:14-30)