Summary: Give real support for friends in suffering by being present with them, providing them a listening ear and share the promises of God.
What can you do to a friend who is suffering?
• Support him. 2 Cor 1:3-4 “… the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
• All of us can be used by God to be a comfort and support to someone who is suffering.
We are going to learn from Job’s friends today, how they came to comfort Job in his suffering, and learn the things they did right, and the things they did wrong.
• Let’s turn to the book of Job. Job lost everything in one day – you can read it in Job 1:13-19.
• Job lost all his livestock – the oxen, the donkeys, the sheep, and the camels - and all his servants too, except the four remaining ones who escaped to tell him the bad news.
• He lost all his children on the same day – 7 sons and 3 daughters – when the roof collapsed on them when they were partying at the oldest brother’s house.
On another day, Job was inflicted with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head (2:7)
• Despite all of these sufferings, 1:22 says “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” and 2:10c “In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”
• His 3 friends heard of his troubles and came to see him – let’s read Job 2:11-13.
Those first seven days were the most precious moments.
• The friends “met together by agreement” – they came on purpose to comfort him.
• They wept and mourn with him, for 7 days without a word.
• Your presence matters. Your presence comforts. Our quiet presence with a friend who is suffering does make a difference.
Paul shared with Timothy in 2 Tim 4:16-17 “At my first defence, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength…”
• When someone that we know is going through a rough patch in their lives, it is good to be physically present so that they have someone to lean on or to talk to, even if we don’t really have anything to say.
• What is important is to be present and to provide a listening ear, to allow the one who is suffering a chance to pour out their grief to someone who cares to listen.
When I was young, I felt a little uptight when I visit people in the hospitals, nursing homes, or funeral wakes — anything that required me to get close to people who are sufferings. I didn’t know what to say or how to respond. But we don’t really need to. You don’t need to say anything. It is important just to visit, just to be there. Your presence is already a comfort and an encouragement.
Chapter 3 tells us Job speaks. The friends provided listening ears to a man in grief and pain.
• If they had remained that way, it would be nice. Job would have felt their compassion and support.
Unfortunately, once Job started to share about his troubles, the friends felt the need to respond. They felt they needed to say something.
• This was unfortunate. Job was not expecting them to fix the problem or give answers to the sufferings.
• The friends jumped to their own conclusions and made wrong assumptions. They shared their take on the reasons for all that has happened.
At best, their views can only be good guesses because God has not spoken. At its worst, these views revealed their self-righteous judgement of an innocent friend.
• Throughout the long discourse, you noticed, God was exceptionally silent. Not until chapter 38 did He speak.
• I think He did that to show us the folly of man’s so-called wisdom. We don’t know everything, so don’t presume we know and don’t be too quick to judge.
These 3 friends presumed they know the answers, from their observations and limited understanding. They were overly confident and inwardly self-righteous.
• They judged Job and blamed him for the misfortune. Job must have sinned and God is punishing him right now.
• They wrongly assumed that Job’s suffering was the result of his sin, and they began to give him a lengthy lecture about repentance.
You noticed the author deliberately highlighted the only evidence we have – right at the beginning of his book, he stated clearly that Job “was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1), and in his revelation of what God said, twice he stated - Job 1:8 God spoke to Satan: “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” And again in Job 2:3.