Front Page
Meditations Contents
Series Theme: The Anguish of Job
Meditation No. 8
Series Contents:
Meditation Title: Friends

1. Setting the Scene

2. God the Initiator

3. Satan the Destroyer

4. Mishaps of Life

5. Responding to Disaster

6. Even More

7. Options

8. Friends

9. Job's Lament

10. Be an example

11 to 20

31 to 40

41 to 50

51 to 60

61 to 68



1-10 roughly cover Ch.1-4

11-20 roughly cover Ch.4-7

21-30 roughly cover Ch.8-11

31-40 roughly cover Ch.12-15

41-50 roughly cover Ch.16-21

51-60 cover Ch.22-33

61-68 cover Ch.34-42


Job 2:11-13   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. 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. 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.

When we come to consider Job's comforters, his three friends, we run into some difficulties. We really know hardly anything about them. Eliphaz is an Edomite name and Teman was a village in Edom. Bildad and Zophar are men of completely uncertain background. There is only one thing about these three men, they are Job's friends. Now having been an incredibly rich man Job would have had many acquaintances but these three stand out as friends. The word goes out around the country as to what had happened to Job so they each leave their homes and met at some prearranged place and go together to see for themselves what has happened to him.

Now they don't go out of morbid interest, they go to sympathize with him and comfort him. Their intention was good. When you sympathise with someone you enter into their experience and show understanding sorrow alongside them. When you comfort them you seek to pick them up and help them in their time or sorrow or anguish. So these men come with good intentions.

Stop and think for a moment what you want from your friends when you go into a time of suffering. Probably you want understanding, compassion, and consideration. You don't want judgement and you don't want criticism. You just want acceptance and love. Our lives are touched and changed by loving acceptance more than anything else. These are the things we want in such circumstances, but do we find it in the church? It should be. Let's see how these three friends approached Job.

When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him. Whatever they thought they would find, it was worse. He was such a physical wreck that they could hardly realise it was him. Their initial reaction is to weep. Their hearts were moved by his plight. Are we those whose hearts can be moved to tears of compassion? Tears are a sign of emotion; they indicate what is going on inside. In that they convey to another what words cannot convey. In parts of the world tears are considered weak, but in fact they are exactly the opposite, for they reveal us being how God designed us to be. The weak person is the one who is afraid of emotion and bottles up any feelings and is unable to operate as God designed them to be.

Next they tore their clothes and put ashes on their heads. In their culture this was the way to empathise and enter into the mourning of another person, by disfiguring yourself and making yourself like them. When we are mourning we are in anguish over our loss and we no longer care what we look like. In fact we don't look good. For this culture they accentuated it with ashes or ‘dust'. These men enter into Job's experience. That is something that few of us like doing today. We would prefer to stand outside and observe. It leaves that person in isolation, but friends provide company, and if you have to enter their present sphere of anguish to be ‘with them', so be it.

Then they sit on the ground next to him and remain there in silence for seven whole days. For a whole week they enter into this man's anguish with him. They don't try to help, they don't try to bring counsel, they just sit with him. We've suggested it already above, but often in such circumstances people simply want company, another person there so that they are not alone. Often in deep anguish we are in such deep distress that words will mean nothing. We are incapable of coping with rational thought, so logical encouragement that appeals to the mind is a waste of time. We've just got to wait until our friend moves through the first phase of anguish and is ready to talk. We just need to be there for them, to let them know they are not alone.

In all these ways, these three friends are scoring highly. They are doing well. So far, so good, but in one sense this is the easy bit. You may think it is difficult to just sit with people saying nothing for seven days, simply empathising with them in their anguish, but the hard part is saying the right words. With our words we reach out and try to make contact with their understanding, to bring possible guidance, perhaps comfort or encouragement. This is the difficult bit, speaking in such a way that somehow we bless our grieving friend. Here there needs to be a combination of gentle understanding acceptance of where they are, and words that lift, help and gently lead them on at their own pace to be able to cope with life.

No, the bringing of words is the difficult part and that is yet to come and unfortunately these three ‘friends' don't do very well. You can appear to be there for them, but as soon as you start speaking you reveal what you are thinking about them on the inside. Our words reveal our thoughts. How important it is, therefore, that we ensure that our heart attitudes towards people are loving and accepting and understanding, because if they are not, as soon as we speak we will reveal that, and when we do that we distance ourselves from them and only confirm their isolation, and thus we fail to give them comfort and hope. No, don't try to be a comforter unless you've first got Jesus' heart of compassion, understanding and loving acceptance. To be a comforter we are not to be judgemental and Job's friends have to learn that lesson. We're in for some tough talking in the days ahead. You'll need to ask for the Lord's help to understand it but at the end you may become a genuine comforter.

As we observe the words of the comforters in the days to come, remember Jesus' words: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,” (Mt 7:12) and think about how Job would be feeling by what he heard, and ask yourself is this what you would have liked to have heard.