When people experience deep grief, just being with them can be a greater comfort than any words we could speak.

More Lessons from the Life of Job

by Adam Wittenberg
8/29/18 Christian Living

This is part two of a two-part series. You can read part one here: Lessons from the Life of Job.

The life of Job is truly epic: a rich man who loses almost everything, including his health, then endures a time of waiting and accusation from his friends, followed by eventual vindication and restoration from God.

Most of us won’t experience suffering as dramatic as Job’s (we pray!), but his story can help us learn to deal with pain and suffering—both our own and that of our friends.

Using the examples of Job’s three friends—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite—we will examine how to respond, or not respond, to people in difficult circumstances.

1. Silence Is Golden

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place. . . . For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. (Job 2:11–13, emphasis added)

This is stunning! Job’s friends heard of his troubles, came to mourn and comfort him, and didn’t say anything for one week! Notice how they wept, tore their robes (as Job had done), and sat on the ground with him. They entered into his pain.

When people experience deep grief, just being with them can be a greater comfort than any words we could speak. Job’s friends didn’t originally come to solve his problems but simply to be with him.

We may not know what to say, but we can follow this part of their example by entering into people’s pain, meeting them on their level, and waiting silently until they’re ready to talk. Silence is a lost art in our culture, and a powerful discipline. It’s also scriptural: “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, [and] slow to wrath” (James 1:19).

2. Even Well-Meaning Friends Can Get It Wrong

Job’s three friends came with good intentions, to comfort him and be with him in his pain. They started off well, sitting on the ground with Job, but then it went downhill—quite downhill.

Once his friends started talking, it unleashed twenty-two chapters of accusations and arguing—not exactly kingdom values! Each friend thought he had the answer to explain Job’s suffering, but the reason wasn’t with man but with God—who alone is all-knowing.

It’s almost comical, and depressing, to look at their explanations: Eliphaz says that Job has sinned and is being chastened by God; but Job maintained his integrity. Bildad tells Job he should repent because it is the wicked that are punished; but Job was not wicked. And Zophar urges Job to confess any hidden sin, promising that then Job’s “life would be brighter than noonday . . . and [he] would be secure” (Job. 11:15–18).

While there is some general truth in what each one said, there was a huge problem: their words didn’t reflect God’s heart for Job, so they didn’t apply to his situation! Truth spoken out apart from the counsel of God can be destructive.

These well-intentioned men did so much harm that God sent a younger man, Elihu, to rebuke them. God also rebuked them, and then God Himself answered Job, vindicating him. The Lord’s response to these three friends brings us to our next point.

3. Forgiveness Brings Blessings

The Lord chastised Job’s three friends for their deeds, saying: “My wrath is aroused against you . . . for you have not spoken of Me what is right” (Job 42:7). God then tells them to offer sacrifices for their sins and to have Job pray for them, “for [He] will accept him, lest [He] deals with [them] according to [their] folly” (Job 42:8).

Watch what happens next, because it may surprise you. The three friends “went and did as the Lord commanded them. . . . And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:9–10, emphasis added).

This is an amazing passage! Not only did Job’s prayer for his friends (who had wrongly accused him) help restore them to God, but his willingness to forgive them brought a double-portion blessing for himself!

We have no idea the blessings that are available for us in God’s heart when we forgive. Job didn’t know either, but he obeyed and prayed, and God showered down the blessings.

The Father’s heart is to forgive and bless His children. When we enter into this by forgiving others, it unlocks reward in our lives and can even bring breakthrough in the lives of the people we forgive.

Let Job’s example serve as a vivid reminder the next time you are struggling with whether to forgive someone who has wronged you. There’s blessing in store for those who forgive, and great penalty for those who don’t:

“But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”—Jesus Christ (Matthew 6:15)

Friendship with God trumps friendship with man. Let us be slow to speak, in-tune with the Lord when we do, and ready to forgive (and be forgiven) when we get it wrong. This will bring healing to many who are suffering or in pain.

How can you help a friend in trouble?

To learn more about persevering in times of trial, we recommend Growing through Mistreatment by Allen Hood. Discover keys to spiritual maturity, fostering a strong inner life, and cultivating a tender and responsive heart toward God, even in persecution. Available on CD and as an MP3 download. 

Adam Wittenberg

position

A Detroit native who was raised in Vermont and Connecticut, Adam worked as a newspaper journalist until 2012, when he moved to Kansas City to complete the Intro to IHOPKC internship. Afterwards, he earned a four-year certificate in House of Prayer Leadership from IHOPU and is now on full-time staff in the Marketing department at IHOPKC. Adam is also active in evangelism and has a vision to reach people everywhere with the good news of Jesus Christ.

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