Read: Job 2:7-13
Consider: Today’s reading from Job contains a few lessons for us when we want to support someone who is going through major issues in their life. These issues may be related to things like health, family, or employment.
The book of Job is not meant to provoke discussion about whether or not Satan can adversely affect a person’s health and circumstances. Its primary purpose is to look into how one man handled a very testing time in his life when he lost health, family and possessions. Throughout this book we see Job being constant in his faith and trust in God, even when others try to influence him adversely. In Job 1:22 we read: In all of this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing, and in 2:10 we are told: In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
What I want us to think about today is how Job’s friends (Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar) responded to the situation he was going through. These three men got together and agreed to visit Job to offer him comfort and sympathy. In this their motives were right. Later in Job we can see that these three friends had long discussions with Job that centred on their understanding that sin in a person’s life leads to great suffering. Following their logic, Job must have hidden sins that he needed to confess to God. They couldn’t get their mind around the fact that Job was being tested to see if his faith and trust in God was superficial or ran deep into his soul.
The main thing to notice in today’s reading is what we read in Job 2:13 – 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. Reading this verse it could be that you find it difficult to see how this would bring sympathy and comfort to Job. In this case, Job’s friends could see the suffering he was going through and they probably just didn’t know what to say. I think we can all learn from this. Often when someone is suffering, it is our presence with them that makes the difference, not our words. Most of us have the inclination to offer sympathetic words and sometimes we are eager to offer a quick solution to the predicament the person is in. It is necessary to resist this and just be there for the person, perhaps listening to them and allowing them time and space to vent their feelings.
Can God use our words of comfort? Of course! Can he use our silence? Yes, of course he can! The key is discerning when it is better to keep silent and just be there for the person, and when to speak.
Pray: Father, give us discernment when we seek to support those going through major issues in their life. Help us to know when to speak and when to be silent. Amen