Choice words

Speaking of disasters
At first Job’s friends were in good form on their pastoral visit: sensing the great suffering of their friend, they sat in silence with him for seven days and seven nights. Their mistake was to open their mouths and offer advice. In the face of a great tragedy—like the tsunami in South Asia or Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast—the natural response is to want to make sense of such unspeakable suffering and pain. But as the book of Job demonstrates, at such times humans have a wisdom deficit. Who is wise enough to put things in meaningful perspective or offer words that make things better?

Some try, and like Job’s friends they tend to spew forth windy words—like the fulminations of fundamentalists who declared that Katrina was God’s guilty verdict on America for the “sin of abortion,” or on “a wicked city . . . that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin.”


This article is available to subscribers only. Please subscribe for full access—subscriptions begin at $2.95. Already have an online account? Log in now. Already a print subscriber? Create an online account for no additional cost.

This article is available to subscribers only.

To post a comment, log inregister, or use the Facebook comment box.