If you’ve never read the book of Job, I highly recommend it. If you’ve already read it, then you might’ve noticed that most of the time, Job’s friends aren’t exactly supportive or sympathetic to his situation.
Among other things, the book of Job is like a manual for how to be both a great friend and a bad friend. Job’s friends are always telling him that he must’ve done something terrible to offend God and make Him take away everything Job had. Job knows his situation is not his fault, but his friends are convinced it is.
I am currently reading Job through for the second time and today I noticed something –Job’s friends do some amazing stuff for Job right at the end of chapter two.
Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place…and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him. When they lifted up their eyes at a distance and did not recognize him, they raise their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky. Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great (Job 2:11-13).
Here’s what they did right:
- Job’s friends came to him. They didn’t send messages through their servants or expect Job to come to them; they went themselves to be with their friend in his time of need.
- When they saw the extreme toll Job’s suffering was having on him, they wept loudly, tore their robes and threw dust over their heads (gestures of mourning).
- They sat on the ground with Job for seven days and nights! I can’t remember the last time I spent more than a day with a friend who was suffering. These guys sat on the ground for a week!
- They said nothing. This shows they were men of great wisdom. Often, our first instinct when someone’s in pain or experiencing great stress or suffering is to tell them it’ll be okay. Think for just a second: Has anyone ever said that to you at a time when you were so upset that all it did was make things worse? Job’s friends realized nothing they could say would make Job feel any better, so they just sat with their friend, silently. They gave Job their companionship, not their words.
Later, Job’s friends try to convince him he must’ve sinned or he would not be experiencing this horrific trial. Through the rest of the book, Job’s friends are slightly less awesome. They’re only human; they’re trying to understand and explain Job’s situation the only way they know how. They try to make Job repent for sins they think he must’ve committed so God will fix his situation–they mean well, but they’re wrong.
For three short verses, however, Job has the best friends on the planet!
What do you think about the first response of Job’s friends? How do you help your friends when they’re in need?
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord come and see.’ Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, ‘See how He loved him!’ (John 11:33-36).