Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Friend in Need...

I'm reading through the book of Job right now in my personal quiet times.  I'm not sure if you've ever read it, so let me give you a quick synopsis.

Job is a righteous man, who honors God in his life and through his sacrifices.  God has blessed him with a large family and many other things.  He is financially secure, to say that least.  One day Satan finds himself in the presence of God, and God starts bragging about Job.  True story.

And the LORD said to Satan, 
“Have you considered my servant Job, 
that there is none like him on the earth, 
a blameless and upright man, 
who fears God and turns away from evil?”

This always surprises me a little.  Can you imagine God bragging about you?  Anyway, Satan isn't impressed, and assures God that if Job didn't have so much, he would turn his back on God.  Basically, he only loves God for what he's getting in return.

Long story short, Satan is given allowance by God to take all of Job's possessions away.  Satan does so, destroying Job's family, livelihood and health.  What is Job to do?  The only one left to comfort him is his wife, who tells him to curse God and die.  Okay, maybe not the greatest way to comfort someone.

The majority of this book is filled with Job and his friends having dialogue.  Their names are Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.  They come to Job and assure him that if all of these things are happening, it must be because there is some sin which Job is trying to hide from God, and all of this is a result of punishment.  Job assures them this isn't true, but they don't believe him.

The thing I wanted to point out is that his friends actually meant well.  They weren't performing very well, but in this story we are assured they meant the best for their friend.  In chapter two it says this: "And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him.  And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven.  And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was great."

I point this out because I think there are a couple of lessons we can learn, from both sides of this suffering.

First, if you are going to console a friend, you might want to spend some time asking questions before you offer solutions.  These friends didn't know the situation, and apparently didn't know God too well either.  So their assumptions were in fact dangerous and hurtful to Job.

Secondly, if you are going through a tough time in your life, and you have friends say things which are hurtful, remember that they may have your best in mind, even if it seems they spend most of the time putting their foot in their mouth.

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