Are you willing to join your friend in their grief and misery? Can you just be with them? Just be. Job’s friends sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights and didn’t say a word. No advice, no intervention. Presence and quiet love. True friends…
When Jobʼs 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.
Job was grieving his situation. He had lost his children and a lot of his possessions. Now he was afflicted with sores all over his body. If you turn over to chapter 3, you will find that Job wished he was never born. Have you ever wished that? Have you ever wanted to end it all? Or that you would have been spared your life altogether? That’s where Job was at. Put yourself in his shoes. Recall your deepest loss in life. Remember the sickest you have ever been. This is how Job is feeling.
Isn’t it difficult to figure out what to do or what to say when you have a friend in this situation? We desire to be helpful, yet we aren’t trained counsellors. Sometimes we minimize things by encouraging our friends to dust themselves off and keep moving. Other times we join them in their misery or direct them into anger or revenge. It’s easy to misstep in trying to help a friend in misery or tragedy.
Watch how Job’s friends respond. Their motives are fantastic. They are coming to sympathize and comfort Job. Perfect. They want to come alongside their friend to bring his comfort in his time of loss and grief. And then they see him. And whatever ideas they had about how to minister to their friend were out the window.
Job was a mess. Worse than they thought. They hardly recognized him. His friends, themselves, started to grieve Job’s appearance and predicament. And then they did something that was brilliant. Something that is actually pretty difficult if you are a fixer or lack the self-control to hold your tongue.
Job’s friends sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights and didn’t say a word. They realized the gravity of his situation and they respected Job enough to not stage an intervention. Note that Job wasn’t planning his suicide or acting out in unsafe ways (those would be triggers to different courses of action). Rather, Job was sitting. Contemplating. Maybe waiting in the Lord. And so they joined him and just sat with him in solidarity and love.
No speeches or advice. Not for seven whole days…
Are you willing to join your friend in their grief and misery? Are you willing to hold their hand and love them through the physical presence of your visitation? Can you hold yourself back from telling them what to do? Can you restrain yourself from judging them? Can you just be with them? Just be.
Brilliant. Loving. Ministry.