Job 2:11-13 (New King James Version)
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.
How should I respond when a friend is suffering great grief? What is it I should say? How should I act? We hurt for our friend, just wanting their pain to go away. Sometimes we try to speak a word of comfort, yet it does not help. Maybe even makes them feel worse.
When my wife died I suffered pain which I could not even describe. Many times people tried to say words of comfort. Yes I appreciated that, as I knew they truly cared. But what brought me the most comfort? It was when someone walked up to me and gave me a great big Ole hug and I could see the sorrow in their eyes. They did not even have to say a word, and if they did speak, just to let me know they cared. Our presence and praying means everything to someone in the early stages of grief.
We never know when death, serious illness or financial disaster is going to rear its ugly head. Many times it is not us it happens to, but a friend. It is good to be prepared in advance, first by knowing who God is and being in a close relationship with Him. I like the way Job’s three friends responded in the passages above. When they heard, they came to him to mourn and comfort him. Then they expressed their grief and set with him without saying a word. This does not mean to not speak at all, but there is a time and a season for everything under the sun. Sometimes our presence and showing we care is the greatest comfort we can give. Unfortunately, later in the book Job’s friends words were not a comfort.