In our compassion, we don't like to see people suffer. And so our instincts are aimed at preventing and alleviating suffering. No doubt that is a good impulse. But if we really want to reach out to others who are suffering, we should be careful not to be like Job's friends, not to do our "helping" with the presumption that we can fix things, get rid of them, or make them "better." We may look at our suffering friends and imagine how they could have better marriages better-behaved children, better mental and emotional health. But when we rush in to fix suffering, we need to keep in mind several things.
First, no matter how insightful we may be, we don't really understand the full nature of our friends' problems. Second, our friends may not want our advice. Third, the ironic fact of the matter is that more often than not, people do not suffer less when they are committed to following God, but more. When these people go through suffering, their lives are often transformed, deepened, marked with beauty and holiness, in remarkable ways that could never have been anticipated before the suffering.
So, instead of continuing to focus on preventing suffering--which we simply won't be very successful at anyway--perhaps we should begin entering the suffering, participating insofar as we are able--entering the mystery and looking around for God. In other words, we need to quit feeling sorry for people who suffer and instead look up to them, learn from them and--if they will let us--join them in protest and prayer. Pity can be nearsighted and condescending; shared suffering can be dignifying and life changing. As we look at Job's suffering and praying and worshiping, we see that he has already blazed a trail of courage and integrity for us to follow.
From Eugene Peterson's introduction to Job in The Message.