Tuesday, June 23rd. Job 2:11-13

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home‑‑Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to go and console and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. Job 2:11-13

Friends comfort us when we’re hurting. It hardly seems necessary to mention that – it seems like a no-brainer – but it is fact one of the greatest blessings of friendship.

Job, caught up in this little game between Satan and the Lord, had lost everything. His children had died. His wealth had been stolen. His health was gone. He had been reduced to sitting in ashes, scraping the sores on his body. But he still had some friends. True friends. The kind that show up when you’re hurting.

Sometimes it is a grandparent who is the first to open your eyes to what disease can do to somebody. And sometimes it is a friend. But anyone who has been around awhile has probably experienced being in the presence of someone who has been reduced to a shadow of their former selves. It is heart wrenching. Yet Job’s three friends still showed up and they even stayed awhile.

As a matter of fact, for seven days and nights they modeled all that a friend really needs to do in the midst of suffering. They were there. They wept. They grieved. They allowed Job to experience his suffering while joining him through the power of their empathic love. That is all friends, real friends, really need to do.

They don’t have to say something. They certainly don’t have to say the exact right thing. They don’t have to fix the problem. They don’t have to give advice. They don’t have to share stories about their cousin who went through the same thing. They just need to be there and by virtue of their presence, they communicate a reality that words can’t touch. At least words can’t touch in that situation.

Eventually though they blew it. They couldn’t help themselves. Friends aren’t perfect. Even though their various opinions on the matter only made matters worse for Job, they only had the best of intentions.

We can learn something from those three friends. Something about giving to our friends what they really need – not answers or advice or sympathy, but presence, understanding and empathy. Nothing is worse than suffering alone – thank God for the gift of friendship to help us through the hard times of life.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, sometimes life turns on us and we find ourselves hurting. It is so hard to hurt alone, to suffer in silence, to feel cut off. Thank you for the power of friendship to bring us comfort and hope. Be with us, that we might be a friend indeed to others in our lives by being there for them when they need us. And encourage us, when we find ourselves suffering in silence, to reach out to our friends and receive the gifts you have there for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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