Job finally breaks the silence of the last week as it would seem he can no longer bear it. We have no way of knowing what has been going through his mind in the last week, but surely he has been tempted to turn his anger toward God. Still, he does not sin and curse God, as God in His wisdom already knew he would not. True enough that he did greatly lament his own birth, but even the great prophet Jeremiah did so (Jeremiah 20:14-18) in his sorrow over his persecution.
Still, it is all too easy for us to be tempted to judge Job and others, for who among us has not himself suffered? And is our suffering not just as severe for us at times? When we have been hurt, do we cry out and long for death? If we do not, does that make our grief and pain less significant?
We all do suffer – some more than others – at times, and if we are truthful, as great as our pain may be; and as bad as it may get for many of us, it is doubtful that we go through the degree of anguish and pain that Job has already experienced in the first two chapters of this book.
But who is anyone else to judge this, and what yardstick will they use to do so? That of what we read of Job – or (more likely) their own? We will get to know Job’s friends much better in the coming days, but if you cut through all of the criticism that we and others direct at those friends (and truly they will show their own flaws as well), we should not lose sight of the fact that they came and stayed with Job when he was at his lowest, spoke not a word until he spoke, and only now will speak as they believe they may be able to help him understand why these terrible things have happened to him – as well how he might “fix it.”
Our desire to think of ourselves as compassionate, and “being there” for our friends as Job’s three friends are there is admirable, but we must not presume to “know how they feel.” No matter how seemingly large or small the trial or pain, no two people handle grief, depression, or pain in the same way. All Job knows, is that when all that he has lost began to go wrong, it just kept coming! And his worst fears and dreads became realized again and again (verse 25-26):
“For the thing that I fear comes upon me,
and what I dread befalls me.
I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;
I have no rest, but trouble comes.”
Re: Job 2:10 “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” He epitomized Jesus’ words; and with of all their faults, Job’s friends did show compassion, for as much as he still obeyed Matthew 22:37 (cited from Deuteronomy 6:5), they demonstrated their love for him as in Matthew 22:39: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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