The Book of Job is exceedingly rich and I mean, from start to finish. It’s a book that haunts me like a ghost, chasing me around to write a story. That story is of Job’s friends and the reason for the haunt is: I am Job’s friends.
We get to know the character of Job’s three friends when they hear of Job’s sudden calamitous troubles. The friends drop what they are doing, agree to meet up and set out to go sympathize with and comfort Job. These friends are clearly distressed and moved by their dedication to Job and in that they set out with intention and a plan! Lord, help us now, for friends with a plan to fix can be a disaster.
Fast forward to the friends’ arrival. For seven days, they mourn together and nobody says a word. But then, in his unimaginable distress, Job opens his mouth and starts blasting and his friends, well, they take the bait. Oh, but do they jump to get a word in.
One of his friends flat out tells Job that he’s not quite pious and blameless enough and quips that Job oughta be more thankful for these many blessings of calamity. As helpful as that wasn’t, Job throws it right back at him talking about a despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, not undependable brothers as intermittent streams that cease to flow in the dry season. Job goes on to lament, that his friend has proven to be of no help upon seeing something dreadful and becoming afraid that Job has brought this on to himself. Job has to plead with his friend to stop judging him.
The other two friends then helpfully chime in to cut Job even deeper. They imply that Job and his family must have been full of deep, hidden and unrepentant sin and that now they are all paying for it. One of the friends even expresses his desire that God would speak and open His lips against Job. Aha! Well, careful what you wish for.
In this Godforsaken testament of friendship, Job cries out that these friends are worthless physicians and if only they would be altogether silent! Yes, silence would have been the better plan here, but alas, this saga of combative, opinionated, outspoken friends of Job continues on and on.
Bus, as it turns out, someone is listening to all of this unfriendliness as it takes place. A powerful someone. The Lord speaks directly to Job first and pretty much reminds him that he is not God and knows not of God’s plan, timing and justice. Then, the Lord goes on to dress down and redirect the three amigos. He says I am angry with you because you three have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. He goes further and tells them that because Job will pray for them, He will not punish them for their folly.
What a twist that the friends who set out with a plan to help and fix their old friend Job end up being saved from their own calamity by that very misjudged Job, their true friend.