"I have heard all this before. What miserable comforters you are!
Won’t you ever stop blowing hot air?
What makes you keep on talking?" Job 16:2[NLT]
Job's friends knew him, yet at the point of his greatest need in attempting to comfort him, their words became like swords that inflicted severe lacerations. After the first round when Job heard their arguments, but did not agree with them they became more vitriolic. It was almost as if they were upset that he still maintained his integrity - it was no longer about Job but about them.
First they wondered if he did something that would cause all of this calamity to fall on him. Remember Job was a righteous man - God and the Devil knew it, so the answer to their query was Job did nothing wrong. Job was not afraid to speak up in his defense; he knew he was a righteous man, but he questioned God because the degree of his suffering was incomprehensible to him.
Because Job never veered from his convictions - his friends went in harder. They called him names and accused him of many things (Job 15-21). They called him:
- A Windbag
- A sinner
- A maggot
- A worm
In spite of these harsh words Job continued to stand up for himself and was never cowed by his friend's words. A weaker person than Job may have taken some of these friends words to heart.
In chapter 16:2 he calls them miserable comforters and after the final round of speeches from his friends he wonders what has gotten in to them: "Where have you gotten all these wise sayings? Whose spirit speaks through you?" Job 26:4[NLT] (Go Job!!!)
All of Job's trials including the words of his friends were meant to make him turn his back on God, but Job was a man of integrity and stood his ground. In spite of his grief and his downed spirit he knew his friends were wrong, unkind and not very encouraging.
Sometimes when we are going through things, the very people that we think will comfort us with their words, don't. Sometimes pride gets in the way and the comforter can no longer empathize. Sometimes even without pride, it's hard to walk in another's shoes and really feel what they are feeling. Sometimes we think our advice is so good we wonder why our hurting friend rejects it. Perhaps the time wasn't right - they just needed you to be there. They needed the gift of your presence, not the presence of your voice. Perhaps you were a miserable comforter to a hurting friend or you were the recipient of words that wounded more than helped. Let's learn from Job's friends - let's watch our words as we attempt to comfort our friends. Let's speak less and listen more. Let's be slow to rush to judgement.
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9 [NLT]
What can you learn from Job's friends during his greatest need?