Job lies in pain, suffering, and grief. He’s lost every earthly possession. He has buried his children. He is suffering from a painful disease. His wife is discouraging and faithless. In chapter 2:11-13, we find Job visited by three friends as he mourns in the ashes of adversity.
Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphazthe Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. 12 And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. 13 And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. ~Job 2:11-13
These guys left the comfort and company of their own peaceful homes and they came to sympathize and comfort Job in his grief. Clearly, they were true friends who genuinely cared for this man. False friends never show up when the objects of their use cease from usefulness.
As they approach, they see a man so greatly afflicted that he is unrecognizable. How fearful. How sobering. Seeing one of our own in a desperate state is like seeing ourselves there.
These men have naught to do but weep. They align themselves with Job and simply sit with him silently. This is likely the wisest and most helpful act they offered to Job throughout the entire course of his suffering. Too bad they didn’t realize it.
We all know the story goes downhill from here in regards to these friends. What began with good intentions, sincere concern, and genuine love went south as soon as these guys opened their know-it-all mouths. There is a reason we are called to be slow to speak.
Only those who are true friends of Christ will remain with him when trial and adversity come. They will be known by mere virtue of their willing presence with him apart from any earthly advantage while doing so. In fact, much pain and many earthly disadvantages may plaque them if they do so.
Furthermore, it is fearful and sobering to look upon our brother so greatly afflicted and marred by the effects of sin. Jesus, too, had a face that proved unrecognizable. When we look upon the cross, we cannot help but see out own desperate state and ourselves as the rightful receivers of that punishment.
Therefore, when authentic friends of Jesus see the cross, we have naught to do but weep. The wisest and most helpful act we can ever do for the gospel is to align ourselves willingly with our suffering servant Savior and simply sit with him silently. He will teach us all things – not the least of which is being slow to speak when our fellow brothers and sisters are suffering severely without cause or understanding. “The heart of the wise studies to answer.” (Matthew Henry)
Fortunately, Christ did as much for us, first. Let us learn to trust him through the ashes of adversity. Southern Comfort may have its benefits, but they are temporary. Silent Comfort is everlasting. He will surely sit with us for as long as he calls us to suffer.