Job 2:11-13 (NRSV)
Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to go and console and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.
By John Grimm
In the United States of America, when a loved one dies, we typically receive three days of bereavement time from our employers. When a friend dies, we will make time to pay our respects to the family. Either way, we will gather at the grieving person’s house. We will reminiscence about the good times with the deceased loved one. We somehow make it through those days, being able to console and comfort the grieving family.
Job’s friends came to console and comfort him. They wept loudly; they threw dust on themselves; they tore their clothes. Then for seven days and nights, they only sat with him. This last mode of consoling and comforting a grieving person seems appropriate for today. Sitting with the grieving family without saying a word is wise.
It is when we begin to accuse and blame that we have lost the practice of consoling and comforting. The grieving person will express a range of emotions, from deep anger to praise. They will have regrets and sweet memories. As for Job, he could express himself, and did express himself, despite his friends’ words of accusation.
How wise would we be if we only sat with the grieving people? How wise would we become if we refrain from accusations when we see family and friends grieving?
God of wisdom, thank you for your consolation and comfort during our grief. Thank you for helping us to learn to grieve with those who are grieving. Forgive us for speaking out of turn when we could be silent when we sit with those who are grieving. May we have hearts and ears to hear the pain of grief. May we have the patience to see those who are grieving through the time of intense grief. In the name of Jesus, we ask for wisdom when it comes time to console and comfort. Amen.