Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Job’s Friends and Their Kin

I really am enjoying my facebook connection on the web. It connects me with so many people who have been part of our lives at one time or another. Spending time there is part of the reason I post here so infrequently. However, every now and then, I get stirred up and it is time to blog.

Another thing with facebook is keeping up with the struggles people are going through and supporting each other through prayer and encouragement. It can be a real blessing.

Then there are the people who take their cue from Job’s friends and consider it their duty to be the voice of God via the comment box. “You really should....”; “If you weren’t...” ; “The Bible says...”; and so on.

In the book of Job, the main character of the story is set upon by all kinds of hardship and heartache. Then his three friends arrive:

Job 2:11-13 (NIV)
11 When Job's three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, 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. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

After a week, they couldn’t keep silent any longer. They had plenty of time to think up reasons that Job was in such trouble and they had many wise things to share with him. For the next several chapters they take turns spewing their wisdom all over a man who is already suffering from angst and self-doubt. Thank you so very much.
Recently, a friend of mine was sharing the loss of the 13 year old son of one of his friends. He started the thread out with, “Words fail to express”. Three comments later, one of Job’s friends found plenty of words that were inconsiderate and abrasive.

When friends are suffering, do they really need our advice or do they just need our presence? For the first week, Job’s friends got it right. They wept with him and shared in his hurt. Most of the time, it is enough. Often, it is just the right thing.