Comfort for the Afflicted

Steven Bouma-Prediger

READ : Job 2:11-13

They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights. (v. 13)

Late one night, while my wife was in surgery in the local hospital, I found myself alone singing hymns in the little hospital chapel. I was seeking comfort, any form of comfort, in that anxiety-filled time. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, appeared a friend. How he had found me I do not know, but what a welcome sight for sore eyes he was.

Job’s friends heard of his troubles and came to console and comfort him. When they first saw him, disheveled in the dirt, they could scarcely tell who it was. But after recognizing him, they wept and tore their robes and threw dust upon their heads—signs of solidarity with Job in his suffering. And then they too sat upon the ground, with Job, for a full week, in complete silence, “for they saw that his suffering was very great.”

In his moving book Lament for a Son, Nicholas Wolterstorff says, “To comfort me you have to come close. Come sit beside me on my mourning bench.” So it is that Job’s friends come and sit in silence, their simple presence speaking more than any words could.

PRAYER

Come, O Lord, and sit with us on our mourning bench, and help us to sit in silence with those we know who suffer.