How did Job's friends and wife respond to his suffering? How do you respond to the suffering of others?
Eternal Creator, you are president of the universe and executive director of this world's affairs, I trust in You.
Consider: Think about the trust involved in your relationship with God.
Sometimes I find watching the news to be overwhelming; trying to enter into the suffering of people in areas of war crimes, famine, weather disasters, homelessness, multiple bereavement and horrific physical injury is just too much to bear. These things happen, however, and often they happen to the innocent, so well personified by Job.
It is another day, and the divine council meeting begins much as usual. So far God has won the argument, but the Satan is not satisfied. He takes it a step further, suggesting that Job has not yet really been tested! Boils were seen as a divine curse (Deut. 28:35). Not only was Job's debilitating disease a physical torment; to anyone around it would also have symbolized God's wrath. His symptoms could fit various diseases, possibly involving constant itching (he was scraping himself). On top of everything else, things were about as bad as they could get. Sitting in ashes was an expression of intense grief. Was his wife's reaction a genuine desire to shorten her husband's misery and end his pain? A silent woman behind the scenes, she too must have suffered terribly! It is important to remember that Job's friends were real friends who earnestly wanted to help him. Their week of silence shows the depth of their sorrow and shock; it also mirrors rites usually reserved for the dead (Gen. 50:10).
When bad things get worse, is it possible to avoid sinning in the way we respond (10)? Many readers will know from experience the agony of life-threatening illness in themselves or in someone they love. The Hebrew verb for "accept" (10) "describes an active, positive participation in what God decrees, not mere passive reception" (John E. Hartley). Is that not a challenge for us? It is helpful to remember that God remains in control, setting boundaries to what happens in our lives (6).
Are you able to sit with a suffering friend in silence, rather than voicing platitudes? Why or why not?
Lord, I admit to being a talker rather than a listener. I need the Holy Spirit to quiet my tongue and open my heart to others.