If only you would keep silent, that would be your wisdom! Job 13: 5 NRSV
Job's three friends come to be with him when he is in the midst of his troubles. They don't even recognize him when they arrive because he is so overcome with his suffering. The three friends are there to give him comfort. And for seven days and nights they simply sit in silence with him. What great friends!
Until they open their mouths.
If only they had kept them shut, then they would be true friends.
It is when they open their mouths, trying to explain Job's suffering (it is because of the sins of your children, your sins, you are not as innocent as you claim) that they are no longer true friends.
They go from comforting to arguing. They go from wisdom to foolishness. We know this because, as the readers, we have been clued in from the beginning that Job is blameless. If only they had kept their silence! Instead, they try to be know-it-alls by explaining the whys of Job's suffering.
Have you ever had a time in your life when you were attempting to comfort or console a friend and you said the wrong thing? Did you wish you could take the words back? Perhaps you wanted to insert your foot in your mouth!
Sometimes it is out silent presence that is the most helpful in times of suffering.
Kind of like God's own silent presence.
God, thank you for being there when we suffer. Help us to be wise in our friendships and know when to keep silent as well. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims