Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Job's Friends (part 1)

Job's friends get dumped on a lot. And rightfully so. They take a bad situation and manage to make it worse by accusing Job of bringing this suffering on himself.

But before they do that, they get one thing right. When they show up they just sit in silence for seven days (Job 2:11-13). Sometimes there are no words. Sometimes the best thing is silence.

This is such a profound thing that it became a part of the Jewish culture that continues today. It's called "sitting shiva" -- literally "sitting sevens".

This is precisely what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he said "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn" (Romans 12:15). We do pretty well at rejoicing with each other. We don't do so well at mourning with each other. It's as if we think Paul wrote, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; fix those who are mourning." Or, "Give good advice to those who are mourning and get them back on the right track."

After seven days Job's friends speak, and they reveal how foolish, naive, shallow and bad their theology is. They probably should have just sat there in silence and then gone home, but they didn't. And we'll talk about them some more in the next couple of days. But let's give credit where credit is due. Their words are terrible. But their silence is brilliant.

Do you have friends like that? If not, you better find some because they are extremely rare in the land of Uz.