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Summary: I want to talk about what Job’s friends did that was right. They blew it later, but when they first came to Job, they were wonderful.

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How to Help People Who Are Really Suffering.

Job 2:11-13

Reverend William A. Huegel

First Baptist Church of Wallingford

January 29, 2006

Job’s Three Friends

11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.

12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.

13 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.

Introduction

Did you ever enter a hospital room or the sick bed of someone who was so sick he/she might have died? Did you notice how unkempt their hair was (a guy may be unshaven)? A cancer patient may be bald from a reaction to chemotherapy. Their color has waned. They look small, shriveled up, and they have no strength. In a word, while you would never say this to them, they look terrible. They look so bad that you almost do not recognize them. It’s hard to know what to say. Everything you thought about on the way to the hospital seems trivial now. You have no words of cheer, no brilliant words of theological insight. In fact, you are speechless. That’s what Job’s friends found when they went to him.

What Job’s friends did right:

I want to talk today, about an aspect of the book of Job that often gets overlooked. I want to talk about what Job’s friends did that was right. They blew it later, but when they first came to Job, they were wonderful. I’ll give them a hard time next week, but this week I want to lift up all the things they did for Job that really ministered to him.

By the way, God seems to be in this series of sermons in a wonderful way. Sue Fowler, who suddenly lost her husband just a couple of years ago, spoke to the children during the children’s story. She told them of how the church helped in the midst of her suffering. I didn’t arrange that. I didn’t think this through. I didn’t come up with the brilliant idea of having her speak to the children and to share her personal testimony but God has directed our paths for our mutual benefit this morning.

After sitting with Job for a week, his friends blew it. They had a need to explore what went wrong and why Job suffered so much. They seemed certain that he had done something wrong, and thus God was punishing him. They were wrong.

Listen to what they did for that first week.

11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.

1. The first thing you must notice is that they came to him. They refused to do nothing. They did not simply stay home and say to themselves, “Gee, ain’t it awful what has happened to poor Job.” No, they got together and came to him.

I must tell you, that it’s a temptation to stay home. It’s a temptation for me – and I should be used to this. I’m not. I don’t ever want to get used to people’s sufferings. I never really know what to do. You can reason that I’m the professional. I’m the pastor, and clergy are supposed to know what to do. Well, I’ve taken some courses on how to help people, and I have tried to help people in grief for years; but I never have the right words to say. I am never bubbling over with brilliant insight. I always feel somewhat like a bumbling novice. Because I never quite know what to say, I often face the temptation of staying home. I usually resist the temptation, but it’s there.

I remember hearing the news of a young man who was suddenly killed in an automobile accident. The family was very dear to us. I was deeply concerned for them, but I also remember the feelings of hating to go over there:

- I would be touching their pain.

- I reasoned that whatever I said wouldn’t be very helpful.

- They would probably think of me as an idiot.

- Maybe I would just make things worse.

- Maybe they wouldn’t really want to see me.

- Somebody else could probably help more.

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