Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Job, his Wife and his Friends, by William Blake, c.1785

So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.
Job 2:13

Job's three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar hear of his plight and travel from their own countries to be with him. They all have wisdom to impart, each from their own tradition. There is a parallel here with the three wise men who travel from different countries to find Jesus, and bestow gifts on him, 1 each gift having symbolic meaning. It turns out that the advice they give is mostly in the form of judgment, and even blame, and Job ultimately calls them all miserable comforters,2 but at this point we don't know that. What we witness is three friends willing to travel great distance to be with Job in his time of hardship and despair. Seeing just how great his suffering is they choose to say nothing for seven days, but instead just sit with him in silence.

Sometimes that is all we need from our friends: to come to us exactly where we are, in this case upon the ground, to sit with us in silence, to indicate we are seen, we are heard. Being silent is the best place from which to begin to listen. Too often we jump into empathic identification, pity, or advice-giving, none of which are particularly useful. Usually all we want is to be loved and to be heard—even if, as in this case, we are not even speaking ourselves. Listening to tears is powerful too.

1 Matthew 2:1-12
2 Job 16:2