Job 2:11 “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own from his own place: Eliohaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. 12 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. 13 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.”
Later on in this story Job’s friends will challenge and even judge him. But what spoke to me when I read these verses was how grateful I was and still am for the family and friends that stood by me while I was going through my marital problems and my divorce.
My friends listened, prayed, encouraged and sometimes sat with with me with no words at all. Job’s friends couldn’t recognize him when they saw him because of his downcast spirit and his physical appearance. I’m certain that I was also unrecognizable as I grieved or expressed anger. I wasn’t the fun girlfriend they could go grab coffee with, I seemed to always have a new layer to add to the gloomy story of my life. Still, they sat with me.
Friendship is so important. I have been able to sit with others who grieve, but at times there were those that lost a loved one, I wanted to comfort them but I had no words, I didn’t know how to reach them. It’s a blessing to have friends who comfort you in your despair. It’s also a gift to be allowed into someone’s grief. It’s easy to be a friend when times are good, but going through life’s hard times together establishes true intimacy. Friends that walk with you in times of trouble see your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. It takes a lot of trust to let someone see your imperfections. Walking though difficult times with someone takes a lot of patience and grace.
God chose to include Job’s friends in sharing Job’s story with us. It stresses the importance of relationships in the process of healing. We are usually hurt in relationships and we need to heal in relationships. We need to bump and bang into others in relationship to establish who we are and what we’re made of. It’s easy for me to be pleasant and loving, when I’m alone! But when I’m interacting with others there are many opportunities for what’s inside to spill out when I’m bumped by another person. When we are hurt by people, we tend to hurt people. It is in relationship that we can learn boundaries and how much we can trust ourselves and others. We could shun people, because we were hurt by people, but in the process of risking and being vulnerable we reestablish hope and trust in others.
Ultimately we learn that God wants us to understand that He is our only perfect relationship. When others fail us, he is strong enough to hold us. He is our comfort and joy when others fail us. He is good to forgive us and teach us when we fail others.
Sometimes our friends are there to comfort, support and speak truth in love. Other times they “miss it” which forces us to come to terms with areas of weakness in ourselves and others. Sometimes the mistakes we make or face in relationships cause us to grow more than when things go smoothly. The wonderful way that God works is that no experience is wasted on us.
Romans 8:28 New King James Version (NKJV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
I’m so grateful for the people in my life that cause me to grow. “God, bless the many people in my life that both love and challenge me to be what you have called me to be. Help me to be a blessings and a challenge to others Lord. Help me to understand that you are my very best friend and that I need to come to you for comfort and wisdom first and that when I do, you will honor that and show me what to do and who, if anyone can help me do it. I love you Lord. I so appreciate my relationship with you. Amen.”