When you think of Job’s friends what comes to mind? I don’t think any of us would give them friend of the year award, right? But I do have to give them credit. There are a few thing they DID do right.
“When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar 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.” Job 2:13
When they heard what happened to Job they dropped everything and showed up. They didn’t call him or text him on the phone and said, “I’m so sorry to hear what you are going through, I’m praying for you.” No! They actually inconvenienced themselves enough to take time out of their day to show up. I think this is a great lesson for all of us! Without busy lives, it’s harder and harder for us to actually take the time and show up for someone. Our lives are mostly happening in a virtual setting. But we are fooling ourselves if we think that virtual can replace face to face. Let me ask you this question. When you are in great despair what would you rather have? Someone sending you a text or actually showing up at your door to be there with you? Now, I want you to hear me on this! No, we cannot do this with everyone we know, but we can do this with our closest friend. Our best bud! Take the time and be ok with being inconvenienced.
In Job’s greatest need his friends’ intention was to sympathize with him. They started out good at the beginning. Later on, in the book, we can see that they got off track, way off track but their intention at the beginning was good. When we are hurting at first we don’t want to hear correction! We want to know that people who are close to us got our backs. That they sympathize with us even if they don’t agree with us. The correction can come later. But at the beginning take the time to sympathize with those you love. Tell them “I’m sorry you feel this way. This must be really hard for you!”
For 7 days they sat with Job in silence. I don’t know about you but I constantly have to remind myself that it’s ok to be silent. When I meet someone and the conversation doesn’t flow like I think it should I have the tendency to just blabber. I feel the need to fill in the silence because I’m afraid of the awkward pauses. The same happens when a friend is hurting. I’m afraid of the silence so I feel the urge of needing to give some great advice, which eventually ends up sounding foolish and I wish I just remained silent. Silence is ok. Not having answers to give to someone when they are hurting is ok. It’s more than ok. Sometimes that’s all someone needs from us. A listening ear and our presence.
If you are anything like me, you probably want friends like that in your life. You probably also want to be that kind of a friend to someone else. So, are there a few great lessons we can learn today from Job’s friends? Yes, I think so: Show up when it’s most needed, sympathize and be a good listener.
How will you do that today? Who might need your listening ear today? Who needs your sympathy?