“They [Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar] 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”
During these last few days, I have been reading through the Book of Job. Job, along with Ecclesiastes and Proverbs are categorized as wisdom literature. There is much for us to learn from these three books. Though I must admit, that over the years, I have found Job to be a hard book to follow. So much of Job is filled with speeches and conversations between Job and his friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu. I have found it helpful to have an Outline of the Book of Job with me as I read. The Bible Project poster on Job (printed below) has also been helpful.
The Book of Job is filled with many words, long speeches, and elaborate conversations, which is why I was struck by the silence that ends chapter two. In chapter one, Job loses everything: his livestock, his servants, and his ten children. Job is suffering greatly, so his three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar) come to visit him, but when they arrive, they don’t say anything. They just sit on the ground next to Job and remain silent… for seven days and seven nights. They didn’t offer condolences, or platitudes, or explanations (that will all come later). They simply sit with Job in silence… for seven days and seven nights.
So often, we avoid places of pain and suffering. We’re not sure what to say, and we certainly don’t want to say the wrong thing. So, we stay away. Over the years I have found that folks rarely remember what we say, but they do recall that we showed up… even when we show up in silence.