By Kimberly Coombes
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach famously stated that, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.” She helped us put into perspective the fact that even when things aren’t working optimally, they’re not always a complete loss. People can be like this too. Sadly, we like to box others into “always” and “never” categories.
"She always complains."
"He never helps."
"She’s always late."
"He never listens."
These statements are usually based on things that happen often or are the norm. Since always/never statements are 100% claims, that would mean it’s true all of the time, and that is usually not accurate. Just like Ebner-Eschenbach noted, broken clocks tell the right time twice each day.
We tend to have this all or nothing problem when it comes to Bible characters. Job’s friends certainly get accused of being all in – on the wrong side that is.
Most of the book of Job is a conversation between him and his friends, where they point out his flaws and failures, and explain why God is judging him. Their critiques are not how God sees things and He addresses their shortcomings at the end of the book.
But if we’re not careful, we can overlook a verse about Job’s friends, at the beginning of the story, that shows they got a few things right.
“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.” Job 2:13
1. They were silent for seven days.
I don’t know how well most of us would do with this task today. We often hate silence, and are constantly doing things so we can avoid it. Music is constantly playing, devices are constantly beeping, and we are constantly talking. But silence can be a gift, especially when we are not asking broken ones to work hard to respond to us. Sometimes the hurting don’t even have the energy for words. Silence says, “I’m not asking you to say anything or to answer any questions; it’s okay to hear your pain.”
2. They sat with him.
If silence is a struggle for us, stillness is not far behind. But Job’s friends did well in that they came to where he was, they joined him on his level, and they didn’t require effort from him. Stillness was okay; it was allowed. They didn’t hurry, and they didn’t ask Job to hurry either. Sitting says “You don’t have to serve me, and you don’t have to receive from me right now, because it’s okay to sit with your pain.”
3. They saw his grief.
No one likes watching other people suffer. We want to see them thrive; we want to see them have victory. When you see someone’s grief you can say, “I see you hurting; I acknowledge this hurt. I’m not asking you not to hurt, and I recognize this is where you are right now.” Seeing says, “I see you and I see your grief; they are both very real and it’s okay for you to see the painful situation you are in.”
It’s true, Job’s friends get a bad rap and for a good reason; they weren’t as helpful as they could have been, but they weren’t total failures. They did get a few things right along the way, and they can help us get some things right too.