Now when Job’s three friends—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite—heard about all this adversity that had happened to him, each of them came from his home. They met together to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. Job 2:11 (HCSB)
The most memorable part of Job’s story, is that God allows Satan to strip a holy and blameless man of everything he has: It’s the ultimate test of faithfulness. In the end, Job is found faithful and God restores to him everything he lost, and then some. But as the radio announcer Paul Harvey would say…”Now the rest of the story”
Starting in Chapter 3 to the conclusion of this book we see three friends, one observer and the Lord participate in a series of conversations. Our lives are no different then what we see on display in the Old Testament book of Job. Think of it this way…when we ourselves have received “bad news” what is the first thing we do? Well if we are honest we call our spouse, parents, best friend or a group of friends and start a conversation. How often do we really turn to God first?
After all that has happened to Job we read about him lying in the dirt, scraping his sores, and wondering why God would do this to him. Then along come his friends to offer their counsel (2:11). Their message is basically that Job must have messed up somewhere for God to punish him like this. Job insists, though, that he is a righteous man and without sin. Who is right? Both. Neither.
Job’s friends are godly men, and right in their theology…technically, and as we know from the story, Job is right in believing that he did nothing to earn God’s punishment. Where he’s wrong is in thinking that God has acted unjustly. Job may not deserve punishment, but neither has he done anything to deserve God’s absolute protection. Job’s friends, on the other hand, are wrong to think they can understand God’s will. Just because He has been known to punish sin, that doesn’t mean that every bad event is a punishment.
Job did not follow God because He was so good to him, but because he is God. So should we. When we encounter the inevitability of loss, suffering, difficulties and persecution in our lives, as we certainly will, we must always beware of the friends of Job. We must seek to enter into a dialog with the Lord. When the Lord is the center of our life, the main part of our conversation, that is when restoration will begin.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts, we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” Indeed like Job, we in today’s society are under great pressure. We may even feel as if we ourselves have received a sentence of punishment. But, when we feel that way, the question is “Who are you relying on, who are your conversations with”?