What are friends for?

Scripture reading for May 18: Job 4-7

Close friends who we can share our hearts with are few and far between.  I am blessed with a close friend in my wife.  She is God’s precious gift to me in the area of friendship.  I also have several men who are friends I can count on.  But outside of your mate, friends who will stick with you and speak honestly to you through thick or thin are not that easy to find.  We have trouble trusting others and as we live life, we come to see that each person, ourself included, has his own load of faults and walls of self-defense.  The gift of friendship is something special that must be cultivated over time.

Job was in the thick of his personal crisis.  He had lost his material possessions and his children, and now had lost his health.  His body was covered with sores and he itched and ached.  Worms infested the sores and he could find no rest day or night.  His skin was disfigured and he was sickly and emaciated.  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 sitting quietly with him. 

One friend, Eliphaz, finally spoke with advice for his friend.  Eliphaz believed that God punished the wicked and He rewarded the righteous.  Any suffering was the result of some sin and God was punishing wickedness.  God would restore and heal any person who honestly confessed their sin.  Eliphaz got this revelation from a personal experience with a “spirit” and from personal observation.  (Job 4:12-21)  The ‘accuser’ had used Eliphaz to torment his friend. Eliphaz did not know God had Himself declared Job righteous before the suffering began and allowed Satan to test Job in this manner! (Job 1:8)

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

As I read Job’s story, I am reminded of my need for compassion for those who suffer!  It is easy to judge others from our own worldly wisdom!  God’s ways are above our understanding and we cannot always know the whole story through our own study or personal experience.  Listening closer is wise!  Waiting on the Lord and encouragement 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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