Have you ever given or been given advice that begins with, “If I were you…”? How was that advice received? The thing is, grief, anxiety, worry, suffering, whatever the problem – it is personal. I can try to put myself in your shoes but my frame of reference is me. The only way I can really know what you are going through is to become you. Me in your shoes is still me.
Does that mean we should never give advice? Honestly, unless the hurting person asks for advice that is exactly what I’m saying. But even when asked, we shouldn’t assume anything. We should not assume we know how that person feels or know what they are going through. We should not assume we know why that dear one is suffering. Even if you have experienced similar circumstances you cannot know how they are feeling. You can only know how you felt in your experience.
I am reading the book of Job, a book filled with all kinds of bad advice from friends who really did mean well. But Eliphaz, in Job 5:8, actually does give what I consider some good advice for all of us. He told Job to take it to God. You see, God is the only one who really knows what you are going through. He knows how you feel because he reaches into your deepest, darkest places where no one but you can go.
I guess I would say if you are going through something, go ahead and listen to the advice given by well-meaning friends. You might hear something useful amid all the garbage. But listen with a filter. Then take your problem, maybe even the advice, to God and see what he thinks. Read God’s Word with an open heart. Pray. Thank God for his love even if you feel unloved. Praise him for his blessings even if it’s hard to do. Lay your requests at his feet, then trust him to take care of you.
God promises to give us all we need and he is true to his Word.