To be completely transparent the book of Job has always been a little strange to me. The back and forth that takes place between the Job and his friends has always baffled me. To be truly transparent, I have never read through Job more than two times before this one. So I am not a scholar by any means.
In various classes, sermons, and other places I have always heard that Job’s friends are really not helpful in counseling him. As I read the back and forth between them I even see Job share that with his friends … “Doubtless you are the people, and wisdom will die with you!” (Job 13:2 NIV84). That is not high praise for his friends who have come to his aid.
I wander if there is a nugget of truth we can find here in this counseling session. When I read the words of Job and his friends as they describe God I find myself nodding my head in agreement. What they all say is in agreement with what I find throughout the rest of scripture. So why are they not helpful? I think it is the approach they have come at Job with. Job has just come through the worst event any human could suffer through. While the words they share speak truth about God, it really isn’t what Job needs to hear.
If we wanted to, we could probably find some fault in Job. Has he closed himself off to the counsel and compassion of his friends? I don’t know. I can tell you this; I do not know how I would react to the counsel of friends if I had experienced what Job had. So while he may not respond well, maybe it is the best he can do following his tragedy.
I think there is a lesson here for us … How do we compassionately and lovingly support someone who has gone through a challenging time in life? Do we always strive to point out the reasons they have gone through this tragedy pointing to their faults? Or do we first show them love and support and over time, as they are ready to look back, use their struggles as a teaching time? Finally, how do we respond to those who are doing the best they can to be comforting and supporting when we have hit rock bottom?