What are friends for?

Scripture reading for May 20th: Job 4-7

Friends are a precious gift to any person!  Close friends whom we can share our hearts with are few and far between.  I am blessed with a close friend in my wife.  I also have several men who are friends I count on.  But outside of your mate, friends who will stick with you and speak honestly to you are not that easy to find.

Job was in the thick of his personal crisis.  He had lost his material possessions and his children, and now had lost his health as well.  His body was covered with sores and he itched and ached.  Worms infested the sores and he could find no rest day or night.  He was just a shadow of his former self and at this point had no answers as to why this was happening to him.  His own wife had advised him to curse God and die.  Three friends were there with him and sat  for seven days in silence.

Eliphaz  finally spoke up and gave advice from the popular world-view of his day: “God punishes the wicked rewards the righteous.”  In this view, any suffering was the result of some sin.  Confession and honesty about your sin would restore and heal you.  Eliphaz got this revelation from a personal experience with a “spirit” and by learning from personal observation.  (Job 4:12-21)  But this view was not the truth in Job’s case!  God had allowed Job’s suffering for His own reasons and had Himself declared Job righteous before the suffering began. (Job 1:8)

Job knew his own heart and his integrity would not let him confess to something he was not aware of.  He would not try to manipulate God just to get everything back.  Rather than being comforted by Eliphaz’s words, he became  more miserable!  (Job 6:21)  Job went to God in prayer for the help he needed and the answers his friend could not give!  (Job 7:17-21)

I am reminded of my need for compassion for those who suffer!  It is so easy to judge them from my own worldly wisdom!  God’s ways are above our understanding.  Listening  and waiting on the Lord is a wiser course of action.  My prayer:  “Help me O Lord, to be a better friend to those who suffer!”

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