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In popular Christian culture, being like “a friend of Job” has taken on the connotation of someone who isn’t a true friend (i.e. one who is sincere, loyal, and compassionate).  But a review of Job, chapter 2 would seem to indicate otherwise.  According to the text, when Job’s three friends heard of his troubles, they immediately stopped what they were doing, and made bringing comfort to their friend a priority.  The language within the passage seems to suggest that they may have travelled a significant distance to get to him, and when they got there, they sat, silently grieving with him for seven days.  It seems doubtful that many of us could claim to have “friends” who might demonstrate this level of sincerity, loyalty and compassion in our hour of need.  In truth, the problems didn’t start until these friends tried to offer explanations for, and give advice about, things they did not understand.

 

This is significant because we “Christian” folk have become rather famous for offering explanations for things that God hasn’t necessarily made clear.  Over and over again the scripture warns that our understanding is limited (e.g. lean not on your own understanding, the wisdom of men is foolishness to God, we know in part and prophecy in part, we see as through a glass dimly…), and yet, even with the best of intentions, we endeavor to go where angels fear to tread.  Indeed, “Christian” bookstores are filled with volumes claiming to offer special insight into the mysteries of God, and many a false doctrine has sprouted from the desire to offer a finite word to describe an infinite concept.  I sense that the spirit of religion often bewitches us to believe that if we are legitimate sons and daughters of God, we’ll have an answer for every question; but the scripture makes no such promise.  We can rationalize that we’re just trying to help people, but that’s all Job’s friends were trying to do for him.

 

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