I could not stop thinking about the story of Job from yesterday. And I kept thinking about his friends and how they blamed God for his suffering, yet Job did not waiver in his faith.
Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, have been known for their offering of lengthy speeches that resulted in their being condemned by God Job 42:7-9 “After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad and Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.”
Job’s friends however did do three things right: First, they came to him when he was suffering. Second, they empathized with him: “they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.” Job 2:12 “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.” Third, they spend time with him.
The trials endured by Job were not related to his behavior. Instead, God used the sufferings as a test as part of His sovereign pain in Job’s life. Following Job’s time of suffering, God blessed Job with twice as much as he had before Job 42:10 “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.”
When we are aware of a friend who is hurting, we can follow the positive example of these three friends by going to the person, mourning with them, and spending time together. Our physical presence with a hurting friend can be a great comfort in and of itself, even if we have no words to say.
We gain wisdom from what Job’s friends did wrong. We should not assume that troubles are the sure sign of God’s judgment. John 9:1-3 “As he went along, he saw a blind man from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man or his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” Instead of telling a hurting person to admit his wrong and repent when we do not know the reason for the suffering, we can join together and encourage a friend to endure faithfully, knowing God sees our pain and has a purpose in it.
When we turn our focus to God, we can offer great encouragement and hope to those in need, helping those who suffer to see God at work. Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
Lord please give my treasured friends love and blessings without end. Bring contentment in their lives; comfort them in times of strife, always keep them safe, secure; Let their path to You be sure. Lord, I pray my friends will be close to you eternally. Amen. By J. Fuchs