Today's Thoughts: Friends’ Advice
Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place--Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. Job 2:11-13
Job's friends had obviously been getting reports as to what was happening to him, and at some point decided to come and see for themselves what was going on. The Bible does not tell us how much time had passed since Job's afflictions began. In chapter one, Satan is given permission to take the things in Job's life that matters most to him, so he wiped out Job's children and property. Instead of cursing God, Job fell on the ground and worshiped God, saying that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. In chapter two, Satan is back, asking permission to physically harm Job's flesh. God granted this permission to the exception of any harm that could bring death to Job. Satan inflicted Job with painful afflictions that were both external and internal, and no doubt caused quite a stir amongst those who knew him. He was so severely disfigured that his three friends did not recognize him.
These friends came with the purpose to "mourn with him, and to comfort him." But if you continue reading the rest of the book of Job, you will see more criticism than comfort is given from these friends. They each used their own wisdom in giving Job advice and counsel. But their counsel is not of the Lord, it is of themselves. They do not know or understand God's ways. They ended up being anything but comforting to Job, as Job had to defend his own actions and beliefs to them. In the end, God restored Job to twice what he originally had, and Job was granted an amazing insight into just how glorious and holy God is. As for these three friends, it was Job himself who prayed on their behalf so that God would pardon their sins against him. They may have thought they were helping Job, but in reality they were sinning against him, and God was watching.
God is always watching us too. Sometimes God sets up circumstances just to see how we will respond. Will we turn from the Lord or will we worship Him? People around us will always have an opinion. Some of these people will be true friends who try to help. God is watching them as well. As Christians, we will find ourselves at times on both sides. When life's trials and afflictions hit us, we may feel like Job, and all we can really do is to continue to trust the Lord, to cry out to Him and to worship Him through it all. If we are watching a friend go through a difficult trial, then we must pray for the wisdom on how to help them. It is not our place to give them our personal counsel or guidance. Our role as their friend is to intercede in prayer for them and to help them in the ways that God is leading us to help them. We need to remember that God is watching how we will respond in both situations. We must trust the Lord, seek His counsel, and wait upon Him. For in the end, God is the only One who can truly restore us.