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The Story of Job - His Friends

Sermon Series:

The Story of Job

Nate Harney
Nate Harney

Ministries Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
Job 2-31


Well, good morning church. My name is Nate. I'm the family Pastor here, and whether you're joining us here in the Worship Center, or in the chapel, or downstairs in the family venue, we just want to say welcome. We're so glad you're here, and I am really excited to open up God's word with you this morning.

My fears were confirmed

So, my freshman year of college, I remember a call I received because it was late at night. I was just getting ready to go to bed. And if any of you have ever received one of those calls, that's just a little bit too late into the night or maybe even a little too early in the morning, your heart just starts to go.

And my fears were confirmed when I answered the phone call from my dad, and he let me know that his mom, my Grandma, had had an unexpected medical emergency and that she would be likely dying within hours. I had gotten bad news before, but nothing like this in my life because my grandma did not know and love and follow Jesus.

So immediately I just started praying, and I prayed for a couple of hours until I got the next call that let me know that she had passed away, and for all I know she likely rejected Christ to the end.

The next morning, I woke up and the first person I saw was this guy named Paul, and he was becoming a friend of mine, and I was so relieved to see him because he wasn't just becoming a friend, but I knew he was a follower of Jesus.

At that moment, what I needed more than anything else was just a Godly friend, just to pour my heart out to, to share what was going on. So I told him about my grandma. I told him she didn't know the Lord, and told him that she died. And what he said to me was the last thing I expected. He said, 'Nate, I hear what you're saying, and I know you're upset that your grandma's in hell, but you should not be mourning. You should be rejoicing right now.' And he said, 'God is enjoying her damnation, and you should be too.' And then he walked away.

Do you know that in our hardest times of life when we're experiencing the worst loss and suffering, when someone comes into that grief, they can either comfort and help you through, or they also have the potential to make things a lot worse?

As we continue on with the story of Job this morning, we're gonna see by looking at the friends who showed up in Job's grief that when we see others that are dealing with loss and suffering, we have an opportunity to come and help and to comfort, and we also have the potential to make things a lot worse.

I want to be really clear before I move on because I know every time we gather, there are those of you here who might be new to the church, new to Christianity. Maybe you're just visiting and checking things out today, and I want to be really clear about something—we Christians do believe in the hard reality of hell. But the way my friend Paul talked about it was just completely and utterly wrong. I feel confident saying that because God said it himself in Ezekiel 33:11. God says, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked.'

So what he was saying was wrong. He had very, very bad theology and even worse timing. And I'll tell you, in case you can't tell yourself, he did not help me in my moment of need. He made things a lot, a lot worse.

His friends show up

As we look at many chapters in The Book of Job that we're going to cover this morning. We're gonna see his friends show up on the scene and we know if you haven't been here for the last couple weeks. We know that Job was a man who encountered more loss and suffering than most of us could ever imagine.

And this morning as we continue our journey with Job we're going to be diving into these chapters where these friends show up to try to comfort him and to try to help him and even to try to challenge him and there are ways where they did this really well and there are other ways where they completely missed the mark and we're gonna look at both.

So if you would turn to Job chapter 2 we're going to jump in at verse 11 right where we left off last week.

"And we're going to be seeking the answer to this big question this morning: How do we walk with our friends through loss and suffering? So, Job chapter 2, starting in verse 11, we're going to read through to the third verse of the third chapter. And I'd ask you this morning just to keep your Bibles open. We're going to be looking at tons of different passages as we go through this big chunk of scripture this morning. So, starting in chapter 2, verse 11:

If you'd join with me, it says, 'Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and they sprinkled dust on their heads towards heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.'

After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. And Job said, 'Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night that said, "A man is conceived."' You pray with me?


Father, we ask that you'd help us to understand your word this morning as we walk with Job and his friends. We ask that you would open our eyes to how we can be a comfort and help as our loved ones walk through seasons of loss and suffering. We pray all this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Big Question

So here's our big question again: How do we walk with our friends through loss and suffering? And how we're going to investigate that in God's word today is pretty simple. We're just going to first notice what Job's friends did well so that we can do it too, and then we're going to notice what they did poorly so that we can avoid making the mistakes that they did. We're going to start with what they did well, so if you look back to the Scriptures, back to chapter 2, verses 11 and 12:

And we see here that Job's three friends, Eliphaz and Zophar, they show up. Look at what it says when they heard what was happening to Job. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And Job is dealing with such a mess in his life, is dealing with so much hardship, they can't even recognize him anymore physically. He looks so different, his disposition has changed so much. And when they see that, they just mourn with him. They raise their voices and weep. And what they would do back in that day is they tear their clothes and sprinkle dust on their heads.

So the first good thing I hope you're seeing here that Job's friends did was they showed up and they mourned with him. Now, showing up and mourning might seem like the most basic, most obvious thing. Do we even need to talk about this? But I'll tell you, as a pastor, I've seen countless times as I've walked through times of loss and suffering with different families, and different communities, that unfortunately, at these hardest times, it's often the times when our most loved ones stay the farthest away.

"And sometimes that can be for selfish reasons, but I've found in the church when I'm interacting with Christians, it's often not for selfish reasons, but actually, they have these well-intentioned but wrong reasons. You might relate to some of these: maybe when you see someone close to you going through a really difficult time, you think, 'Hey, I don't want to be a nuisance. I'll just give them space. I'm sure they're busy. They have so much going on already. I'll just stay back.' Or maybe you think, 'I don't know what I would say at this point. I've never experienced anything like that myself, so I don't know what I would contribute. I'd probably just say something that makes things worse.' Or maybe you just think, 'I just think I'd be awkward in that type of situation, and I really think it would bless them more if I just didn't go.'

Those feelings and those thoughts are real, and I get it. But many times, they're also lies that are keeping us from doing exactly what God has called us to do: to show up and to mourn with those who mourn.

I remember in one of my first weeks here at Peace Church, I was in my office and I got a little knock at the door. So I looked, and it was Pastor Ryan, and he said, 'Hey, we've got to go. We are in between care pastors at that time, and he said, 'We just got a call. There's a couple in our church whose daughter has cancer, and she's just in her final moments, and we're gonna go and be with that family.'

As we rode in his truck on the way there, I remember just kind of nervously confessing to my new boss that even though I'd been a pastor for a while now, I still hadn't really figured out what to do or say in these moments. I had some ideas, but I didn't feel equipped or comfortable to do it. I remember what he said to me because it's stuck with me, and I've carried it with me ever since. He said, 'Can I tell you something? In things this hard, nobody really knows what to do or say.'"

"So we got some idea, but you've got to just show up and you just gotta follow whatever God has for you, and just by showing up, I found time and time again that God shows up and He works through us. So even if you take nothing else away today, I hope that you remember that the people of God, we show up and we mourn with those who mourn. So when you see your friends, your family, and your loved ones in times of deep grief, loss, and suffering, move towards them, and don't back away.

If you look back at chapter 2 with me, this last verse 13, the start of chapter 3, we're going to see what else Job's friends did well. When they showed up, they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and listen to this, it says, 'And no one spoke a word to him, for they saw his suffering was very great.' After their seven days of silence, it says Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. You can read in the whole of chapter 3 more and more of this, but Job says, 'Let the day perish on which I was born and the night that said, "A man is conceived."'

As we look in this hard moment in the life of Job, as his friends sat there with him, we see another thing they did well: they were quiet and they listened to him. I want you to know, if you're one of those people who think, 'I don't know what to say in those moments,' if you're sitting there in the visitation line and you're getting nervous because you go, 'What can I contribute?' If you get the news and you're driving over to be with someone in pain and you go, 'Where do I even start?' I want you to know this is good news. Oftentimes, the best thing you can say is not much. Show up, mourn with them, be quiet at first, and listen. There's so much value brought in your quiet presence. There's so much value brought when you mourn with them and listen to them as they process deep grief.

So we need to, as the people of God, do what Job's friends did well. And when we enter into these moments, we need to be quiet and listen. And I know for some of us, this is harder than others. I'm a talker myself. I know there are some talkers here. You live life like your radio DJ. That's just fighting that dead air time. If you're at a social gathering and there are three seconds of silence, you feel the compulsion to just fill that void with whatever you can contribute just to keep things moving forward. I get it. I'm one of those people.

I want to challenge you this morning. I think people like us who have seen how our words have helped we can show up and just start spitting out anything we can think to say.

Show up be quiet and listen, sometimes it's best just to keep your mouth shut at the beginning.

And I know some of you don't relate to that because you would be more on the shy side of things. I want to ask you to be bold for one second. If you consider yourself a quiet, maybe even a shy person. Would you just raise your hand for a second? I want to see if there's anyone here. This is hard for you is that all the hands are going down really fast. It was up and down.

That was your challenge. That was your challenge for today. Sorry for bringing so much attention to you.

I want to encourage you more than challenge you because God has made you.

a very special way and we live in a society that often lifts up and celebrates those who stand up who speak up and who lead with a loud voice, but we forget that God designed some

To serve a special purpose and I would argue in times where people are hurting the most if that's you if you feel like I'm kind of more quiet more reserved. God has designed you to show up in these moments with your quiet and calm presence and you're listening ear and he has made you serve him and this beautiful way.

Keep doing what you're doing and maybe those of us who aren't so good at it. We will watch maybe even listen and learn something as we watch you serve God in the way that you are designed to.

So, how do we walk?

With our friends through loss and suffering for following the good examples of Job's friends we show up.

We mourn with those who mourn.

We sit quietly and we listen.

But unfortunately, we've hit the end of the road here in this third chapter of the really good things. We see jobs friends do and the next 20 some chapters.

We see instead things we shouldn't do.

So let's notice.

What Job's friends did poorly?

So that we can avoid making the same mistakes that they did. So if you're still got your Bibles open look at Chapter 4.

Continuing from where we left off, let's look at what Job's friend Eliphaz says in Chapter 4. Starting from verse 3, Eliphaz speaks to Job:

"Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees. But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed. Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?"

Eliphaz begins by acknowledging Job's past ability to provide instruction and strength to others. However, he quickly shifts to a judgmental tone, implying that Job's current suffering is a result of impatience and a lack of fear of God. This response overlooks the immense tragedy that Job has experienced, including the loss of all his possessions and children. Eliphaz fails to offer comfort or understanding and instead suggests that Job's suffering is a consequence of his own wrongdoing.

This highlights one of the mistakes made by Job's friends. They did not always speak about what was true or timely. They failed to grasp the depth of Job's pain and instead offered misguided explanations and accusations. Their words were not aligned with the reality of Job's situation, and they missed the opportunity to provide genuine comfort and support.

It is important for us to learn from this example and strive to speak the truth and timely words of comfort and encouragement when we encounter friends or loved ones going through loss and suffering. We should seek to understand their pain and offer empathy rather than rushing to judgment or offering simplistic explanations. True support requires us to listen attentively and respond with compassion and understanding.

Elafaz says this to Job.

Verse 7, "Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where was the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. By the breath of God, they perish, and by the blast of his anger, they are consumed."

So let's sum up Elafaz's message to Job here says job. You want to know why your kids are dead because they were not innocent and in the blast of God's anger.

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