Friday, October 20, 2023

Faithful Friends (Job 2:11-13)

"Now when Job’s three friends heard … each one came from his own place" (Job 2:11).

In the midst of his suffering, Job received a visit from three friends. These friends, like Job, were of Gentile descent; they were outside the covenant promises made to Israel, but graced with religious piety. Eliphaz descended from Temnan, the grandson of Esau (Gen. 36:11). Bildad probably descended from Shuah, Abraham’s son by Keturah (Gen. 25:2). Zophar is thought by some to be the same Zepho who was a descendant of Esau (Gen. 36:11).

Job’s friends heard of his great affliction, and they quickly made an appointment to travel from their distant countries to share the burden of his grief. This is a great testimony of friendship. When true friends see a loved one in need, they do not wait for an invitation, but they put aside their own concerns for the sake of their friend.

When we visit those who are suffering, both parties are blessed. It is profitable to the one who visits by giving him a look at the troubles of another, thus causing him to reflect on his own life more seriously and praise God for his health and welfare. It is profitable for the afflicted one by bringing him the love and support of loved ones. “Job’s friends came, not to satisfy their curiosity with an account of his troubles and the strangeness of the circumstances of them … but to mourn with him, to mingle their tears with his, and so to comfort him,” Henry wrote.

Job’s friends allowed themselves to feel Job’s pain. When they saw his disfigured and twisted body, they wept aloud. They rent their clothes and sprinkled dust on their heads, a sign of profound grief. They sat with him among the ashes in a spirit of true compassion. They did not just stop by for a brief and unaffected visit, but they stayed with him and tried to counsel him; although, as we will soon see, they were miserable counselors. Many who seek to do good often make mistakes and fail to bring the comfort they intended. Nevertheless, Job’s friends should be commended for standing by him in a time of great need.

May each of us follow not only the example of Job’s friends but the supreme example of Christ, who is our greatest friend, as we encourage others, comfort them in their affliction, and help carry their burden of grief with sincerity and compassion.

What kind of friend are you? Are you willing to put aside your own concerns for the sake of a friend who needs encouragement? Take some time this week to visit a friend, even if he or she is not in some crisis. We all need encouragement from time to time. Put your friend’s concerns before your own. Above all, listen.