Thoughts on Job’s Three Friends
I’ve read the book of Job multiple times over the years; often turning to it during trials and hardship. Previously my focus was on Job and his incredible emotional and physical pain from losing his family, his business, and his health, and then what happens when God shows up. The book of Job has ministered to and encouraged me many times.
Recently, the sickening responses of Job’s three friends stood out. Job has just gone through some of the most horrific losses anyone can endure in rapid fire order, and his friends are accusing him of sin, condemning him, and going off on a theological debate.
It boggles my mind. It’s as if his three friends totally missed the point; they were there for Job, a man in deep emotional and physical torment. He should have been given the freedom to share openly without risk of getting attacked. They should have understood that they’re not in his shoes and couldn’t possibly relate to all of his suffering. Their priorities seemed to be about beating Job into their theological box… which God later rebuked them for.
The other reason the response of Job’s three friends was so discouraging was because I know these same mistakes are being played out repeatedly in the church today.
I’ve heard of wives who, in marital counseling with their sexually addicted husband, were told that if “they just gave him more sex, he wouldn’t be doing this.” The woman was already suffering, and the counselor pins the blame for her husband’s sin on her. Like Job’s friends, such counselors cause more good than harm and miss the point that her husband alone is responsible for his choices; his wife could be a Playboy Playmate and it still wouldn’t resolve his lust.
Missing the point happens on a large scale too. Today’s statistics show that more than 60% of men are viewing porn and that 50%+ of divorces involve a spouse whose addicted to porn. They also show that 75% of youth are leaving the church. These two issues alone ought to be setting off screaming fire alarms all over the church. Yet not long ago a well-known evangelical pastor put on a conference, not on either of these problems, but on the theological points they see wrong with the charismatic church. I wanted to throw up when I read this. We’re losing families, marriages, and our youth left and right, and we’re having conferences throwing stones across the aisle of the church?? Wouldn’t the time and resources have been better spent dealing with the crisis of sexual sin and what’s going on with our youth, instead of engaging in theology wars?
But then I realized, the “Job’s three friends program of missing the point” is going to continue as long as we’re in these broken, sin-plagued, bodies. There’s going to be moments when we blow it, or don’t understand all of what’s going on, or hurt someone, just as there will be times when others will hurt us.
Not long ago, I went through a trial that lasted several years. I went from person to person looking for advice and help. Some provided counsel, many provided encouragement, a few did more harm than good. In the end, no one had any answers. Perceptively, one of my friends said that, “You know, people aren’t doing you much good. Maybe this is something only God can get you through.”