November 6: A Friend in Need Is a Friend Indeed
November 6, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Job’s reply to Eliphaz’s uncomforting words are a lesson in what people who are experiencing unjust suffering often feel—even if they cannot give their feelings such eloquent voice as does Job.
Job begins by outlining the length and breadth, height and depth, of his misery. He describes it in terms of weight: if it could be weighed, his misery would “outweigh the sand of the seas.” Those who are in suffering and mourning often feel a near-unbearable weight on their shoulders. Job describes the experience of this misery in eloquent terms. Are you suffering? Could you use these words to give voice to your feelings?
But while Job does articulate his misery, his godliness is evident even in his frank despair. He wishes to die (verse 9) so that at least he would have this consolation that he had not denied the words of the Holy One. That is, he wishes he would die before the temptation to say something to blaspheme or deny the living God would become too much for him. At least he would have the joy of having suffered righteously in that case. What a godly man is Job even in the midst of this trauma.
Job’s other complaint is that in his time of need his friends are proving to be just what he does not need. “My brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams” (6:15). I’m afraid this is more often the case than we might like to admit when the sun shines and things are going well. The truth is that when the going gets tough, all too often friends start running—or start accusing the suffering of having done something wrong to deserve their suffering. If you have a friend or brother or family member who is undergoing suffering, be very careful not to blame. It is true that they might have done something wrong, but so have you. And do you deserve all the good you have received? Let God be the judge, and be a friend to those in pain, a brother to those in misery. Consider how awful it was for Job to discover that his friends let him down in his hour of need. A friend in need is a friend indeed, and such friends are rare. If you have discovered that you do have one or even two of such friends, count yourself blessed.
Job’s first part of his reply to Eliphaz is twofold. First, he describes his pain in ways that can be used by those who are in pain today. It is hard to give voice to innermost agony. And yet it is important to do so; here are divinely inspired words that you can use to describe what it is you are feeling. Remember the Book of Job and Job’s words when next you suffer. Go there and let his words be those that describe those feelings that otherwise you cannot articulate. But Job also makes it plain that the way his friends are behaving is not the way to comfort a person in suffering. There will be more of this lesson as we go through the Book of Job. But in this chapter, at least remember: be a friend to those in need if you wish to be a friend indeed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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