Job’s friends always get a bad rap.
In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sermon or read a commentary on Job where the person had a favorable outlook on Job’s friends. But let’s think about this for just a second…
Job’s friends did actually come and visit when he was going through his personal hell on earth. They didn’t leave him hanging or ignore him. They didn’t just send him a “sorry for your loss” comment on Facebook that took 10 seconds to write before moving on to the next thing in their news feed. They didn’t pretend it didn’t happen.
In one translation it says, “When Job’s three friends…heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.”
They actually got up off their couches, left their homes, met up, and made a plan on how they could go help their friend.
Oh, may more of us learn how to do this!
In the next verse, it says when they saw him, they could barely recognize him, and they began to weep aloud. They even tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.
In other words, they sympathized and empathized. They entered into his pain with him. They showed sensitivity to what he was going through. They identified with his pain. And they expressed through actions, that they’d be in this together.
Now get this…
This part totally blows me away. They sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him. Why? Because they saw how great his suffering was.
If you’ve ever had someone sit by your side, for seven straight days, you’ve had an angel in your midst. In this day in age, you’re lucky to have someone spend seven minutes by your side in your suffering. Seven hours? Maybe at a funeral. But seven days?!
Please, think on this, pray through this, and see where your heart is at when it comes to empathizing with the pain and suffering of the ones you love. How can you be there for them? How can you show them support? This is a huge retrospection and area of improvement for me. Maybe it is for you too.
Now, if the story ended there, with Job’s friends sitting at his side for seven days and nights, I think we’d have a very different outlook. And for this entry, I do want us to pause there. Because they got this first part right. They nailed it. Dead on.
Unfortunately, the situation got worse, as we’ll see in coming chapters… all because they opened their mouths.