Job is one of the hardest books in the Bible for me to read. I don’t exactly know why. I love the beginning of Job, and I love the ending, but I get lost in the middle. I think perhaps for me it is just a bit too poetic. I mean, it is saying a lot when I say I would rather read Leviticus. So when I read through the Bible and I get to Job, it takes me some time to get through it.
This time, though, something clicked with me. I don’t know if I ever saw with such clarity the true spirit of Job.
At first, we find ourselves liking Job’s friends. After all, when they saw his pain, “they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.” (Job 2:13).
I know when my husband was killed, that is what I needed. I needed people to just sit with me, perhaps not necessarily be totally silent, but just sit. I didn’t need opinions; I didn’t want direction; I didn’t want to be diagnosed; I just needed someone there and to listen when I spoke. That is what Job’s friends – at first = understood and did. I hope you have friends like that in your life. They are invaluable.
You’ve got to understand what Job had gone through. His cattle was gone, his sheep were gone – basically his lively hood was caput. And most importantly, his kids – all ten of them – had died instantly.
I can’t imagine losing the one kid I have, much less losing ten.
Then Job was struck with boils from the top of his head to the sole of his feet (Job 2:7).
So not only was Job in emotional anguish, he was also in physical anguish.
And his friends came and sat with him. After seven days, Job lifts his voice to the sky and basically cries, “Why was I born?”
At this point in time, his friends should have shut their trap and listened. Instead, they start accusing him of wrongdoing.
At one point, Job pleads with his so-called-friends, “Pity me, pity me, O you my friends!” (Job 19:21)
But they don’t. They hit him all the more with accusations.
Then Job says something that struck me to the core of my soul. I don’t know if you have ever been in a place where the dark was so dark it hurt to see, but I have been there, and this is the cry of a person who is in that place . . .
“My days are past, my plans are torn apart, even the wishes of my heart.” (Job 17:11)
I get this book now more than I ever have. That was my cry too, Job. I hear you. There is no explaining that to anyone who has never been there. You can’t understand. It is impossible for you to understand. Job’s friends didn’t understand, but they thought they did. That is why they gave Job all those lectures. But all they had to do, all you need to do when someone is in deep, dark, anguish, is sit with them and let them cry. Don’t offer solutions; don’t offer advice; don’t try to formulate what their next steps would be.
Just sit. Sit and listen. And know you can’t possibly understand.
I’m glad my friends were the opposite. Without them, I would not be standing.
“My days are past, my plans are torn apart, even the wishes of my heart.” (Job 17:11).
Be a friend today. Listen, and just be there. That is what Job needed. That is what your friend needs too.