I read about a mom who was surprised to see her daughter muddy from the waist down when she walked in the door after school. Her daughter explained that a friend had slipped and fallen into a mud puddle. While another classmate ran to get help, the little girl felt sorry for her friend sitting by herself and holding her hurt leg. So, the daughter went over and sat in the mud puddle with her friend until a teacher arrived.
When Job experienced the devastating loss of his children and became afflicted with painful sores on his entire body, his suffering was overwhelming. The Bible tells us that three of his friends wanted to comfort him. When they found Job, “they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:12–13).
Job’s friends initially showed remarkable understanding. They sensed that Job simply needed someone to sit and mourn with him. The three men will begin to speak in the next few chapters. The irony is that when the friends do begin to speak, they end up giving Job poor advice (16:1–4).
Often the best thing we can do when comforting a hurting friend is to sit with them in their suffering.
Heavenly Father, help me to be a good friend to those who are hurting. Thank You that You promise to be near to those who are suffering and provide encouragement through Your Holy Spirit.
A friend’s presence in the midst of suffering provides great comfort.
Job’s wife’s suffering (except for the painful sores) was just as keen as Job’s. She had lost just as much, and her angry advice to Job is completely understandable: “Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9). Yet even in Job’s response, he “did not sin in what he said” (v. 10). He merely noted that she spoke “like a foolish woman,” implying that he knew her character to be noble. The text also highlights the fact that Job’s friends truly did sympathize with his situation and were there to provide genuine comfort (v. 11). But Job’s wife and his friends couldn’t fathom that he was part of a cosmic battle they didn’t comprehend.
In this life, certain things will remain beyond our understanding. Perhaps someone close to you faces some unanswerable questions. Who might need your quiet presence today?