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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Facing Trials: Job [6]

Job has lost virtually everything. I am sure he is beginning to think his mind is slipping away as well. In his fatigue and despair, his patient begins to give way to complaint.

Text: Job 2:11-3:26


News travels quickly, especially when it is bad. It has spread from village to village and tribe to tribe. 

"The greatest man in the East has been brought low!"

"Holy man abandoned by God!"

Hearing these tragic reports, three of Job's friends come to visit him. They are Eliphaz from the town of Teman, Bildad from Shuha and Zophar from Naama. We will learn more about each of them as the story unfolds, but for now, it is important for us to notice two things about them...

First of all, they are genuinely concerned. There are not fair weather friends. These men have travelled great distances to visit their poor friend Job. Their concern is all the more evident when they finally see Job in his sorry state. We are told “They began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads'' (Job 2:12).

We should always be deeply concerned about those in need. The Bible states this clearly:

"As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:10)

Rather than envying another person's prosperity or gloating over his problems, we are to ''rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." (see Romans 12:15)
Concern alone, however, is not enough. We are further told that Job's friends are also silent. For seven days they quietly sit with him. Unfortunately, their silence springs from something besides respect for Job, as they wait for him to initiate the conversation.

The silence comes from having nothing worthwhile to say. They do not know what to say, so they say nothing.

As we will see later, this is so serious a fault on their part that it will destroy their friendship with Job and anger God Himself.

Of course, everyone finds that words do not come easily in the face of tragedy. Nevertheless, we should always be able to speak some word of comfort for the welfare of the sufferer. Even though the suffering person may not immediately receive what we are saying, it is there to offer.

One of the things that makes Job's pain all the greater is that his friends are unable to offer the true comfort which God's Word alone can offer. They remain silent for seven days, and offer nothing.
The silence between Job and his friends is painfully long, a whole week! No doubt everyone feels the awkward tension, not knowing quite what to say.

Let's stop and think about this situation in real everyday terms for a minute. Your best buds show up, while you are seemingly at death's door and have lost everything, and they sit in silence staring at you and weeping for a week. How freaking weird is that? These are my best friends, and they have nothing to offer me in the time of crisis, except more tears. Hmmm?!
Finally, Job has had enough. The sufferer has to take on the task of breaking the ice. But, he does so in a rather shocking way. As he begins, he curses the day he was born. Job blurts out:

"May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, "A boy is born!" That day - may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine upon it." (Job 3:3-4)



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