The phone rings. You look down. It’s her. Again. It’s not that you don’t like her or even that you mind talking to her. After all, she’s one of your closest friends. It’s just exhausting to talk to her right now. There’s nothing you can say, nothing you can do. She’s miserable. Rightly so, she’s been through a lot, but when will it end?
We’ve all been there. Maybe it’s not an extended season or a deep hurt, but we’ve all had a friend that’s unhappy and we don’t know how to help.
Job’s friends are my favorite example of this. They were definitely clueless, exhausted, and exasperated.
These guys started out well. They did something incredibly supportive,
“Then they sat on the ground with him seven days and nights, but no one spoke a word to him because they saw that his suffering was very intense” (Job 2:13 HCSB).
Can you imagine? I’ve been in some pretty intense moments with people, but I can’t imagine sitting in silence with someone for seven days and seven nights.
How meaningful that must have been for Job! While he was experiencing unspeakable grief, his friends just sat with him. Their presence was somehow enough.
But his friends should’ve stopped there. Can you relate? I can. Their words completely failed them. Their initial patience was squelched by their final exasperation. Instead of continuing to sit and listen to their friend, they started attempted to “fix” his problem. Their advice was poorly timed, insensitive, and frankly heretical. Not knowing what to do, how to help, and who God really is caused them to majorly fail as friends.
Of course, there are times to call a friend out. That’s a huge part of being a friend that is too often neglected, but checking our motives and trusting God’s control are essential as we partner with our hurting friends.
Job 42:7 ESV shows what bothers the LORD about Job’s friends, “After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: ‘My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.'”
This passage begs the question: what does my response to hurting friends say about God?
I hope it reveals trust. I hope it reveals His love. I hope it reveals His character. I hope it reveals His grace. I know it doesn’t always, but I pray I begin to respond better to a friend in need.