On verses 1-8: In chapter 1, Job passed his first test with flying colours. Now a second test is coming. God continues to boast of Job’s steadfast faith in Him, while Satan believes that if Job’s own health is taken away, Job will turn away from God and curse Him. So, with the Lord’s permission, Satan afflicts Job with painful sores from head to toe all over his body. The closest thing Job experiences to relief is scraping himself with a piece of broken pottery (v8).
What can we learn from this? God has a good purpose in allowing sickness. Once Jesus and his disciples met a blind man. The disciples asked Jesus, “Who sinned – this blind man or his parents – to cause him to be blind?” Jesus said, “Neither, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:3). Then Jesus would go on to heal the man’s blindness in a most interesting and gradual way. Though sickness is not God’s original plan for us, I believe God allows sickness and disease ultimately so that we would learn to trust Him and so that in His time He can display His redeeming, healing, resurrecting work in our lives.
Job 2:9-10 (NIV) 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
On verses 9-10: Keep in mind that Job’s wife had lost just as much as Job. Her children and their finances were all gone. At this point Job’s wife thinks there is no more use in believing in God. She has lost all hope. In her anger and grief she tells Job to “curse God and die” (v9). Job, however, rejects his wife’s suggestion, calling it foolish. His attitude is one of humility and surrender to God: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (v10) Even after losing his children, his health and his wealth, Job refuses to sin against God with his words.
What can we learn from this? Job and Job’s wife represent two different approaches we can take toward tragedies we face in life. We can give up hope like Job’s wife, cursing and blaming God. Or like Job we can surrender to the sovereignty of God, believing that somehow God is writing a greater story with our lives.
Job 2:11 (NIV) 11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.
On verse 11: Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, hear about Job’s troubles and their initial response is excellent. Together they decide that they will go to Job, sympathize with him and comfort him.
What can we learn from this? If you want to be effective in comforting and sympathizing with people in pain, you need to be intentional about it. Sadly I’ve seen this way too many times before: a Christian wants to comfort someone in pain, but they don’t know what to do or say, so they do nothing at all. Perhaps they think that by doing nothing they’re somehow being respectful and not making things awkward. But when I do nothing, the message I’m communicating is: “I don’t care”.
Having been on the giving end and the receiving end of all sorts of attempts to bring comfort, I can tell you this: the worst thing you can do when you hear of a friend in pain is to do nothing and pretend that life just goes on. Even if you’re not sure what to do or say, doing something imperfectly with a genuine heart is almost always better than doing nothing at all. So go out of your way to show comfort and sympathy.
Job 2:12-13 (NIV) 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
On verses 12-13: Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar genuinely care for Job, weeping aloud and mourning with him when they see him (v12). Impressively, they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights, not saying a word out of respect for him.
What can we learn from this? Job’s three friends do an excellent job here of modeling what do you do when a friend is going through such great suffering that there are no words to comfort that person in that moment. Sometimes the best thing you can do to comfort someone in pain is to stand with that person, put your arm around them and try to feel their pain. Give them the gift of your loving, attentive presence. Serve them with humility. Keep your words to a minimum. Let your actions speak louder than your words. When you do these things, you’re weeping with those who weep (Romans 12:15).
Heavenly Father, You are the greatest comforter and healer. I pray that like You I would be intentional and thoughtful in the way I comfort others. When there are no words, I pray that I would use my presence and my service to do the comforting. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!