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DAY 21

A Friend Indeed

[5 minutes]
Mindsetter Moment: Read Psalm 37:12-29 first today. Do you ever have days when everything feels like an effort? Days when you feel overwhelmed and under-supported? The Psalmist may have been experiencing this kind of day. It is easy to turn a critical eye toward ourselves or others in moments like this. The author of this passage had a different tact. He looked to God and gave himself a pep talk. This writer talked up GOD instead of talking down to himself. On tough days, it can help to remember what we have seen God do. Let the goodness of God speak over our desperate feelings. Sometimes we need to turn on some worship tunes and drown out the negative voice in our heads. If you are struggling today, try a few minutes of worship to turn things around.

[15 minutes]
Scripture read
Job 1:1 - 3:26
1 Corinthians 14:1-17
Psalm 37:12-29
Proverbs 21:25-26
Devotional thought
Today we start the Book of Job. It is pronounced with a long “o” sound as in “globe” or “robe.” We thought you might be wondering, so, you’re welcome. Some of you might be surprised to learn that this is not a story about work ethic or making money. This story deals with the problem of pain.

Many scholars believe that this story has very old roots and was edited/added to over hundreds of years as people wrestled through the text, in an effort to understand human suffering. It is written in a play format and you will notice that throughout the story the speaker changes. Sometimes Job will speak, sometimes his friends speak and sometimes God speaks.

The story starts out by introducing us to our main character, Job. We are told that he is very wealthy and well respected. This guy “has it all.” His life seems perfect when suddenly, disaster strikes. Throughout the next several days as we read through this story we will hear every voice we usually hear when a crisis occurs today.

We will hear the voice of doubt questioning God and His goodness. There will be accusations that Job wasn’t good enough to deserve all he had been given. We will hear many relatable theories about why bad things happen. All will be explored by Job and his friends as they sit in the dirt and struggle with the abject misery and unfairness of the situation.

What applies to me?
There is a widely held theory that there are 5 primary stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Before there was a published list and before we had books and seminars about grief, there was a story in the Bible about this man, sitting in brokenness, surrounded by well-meaning friends, wading his way through every stage of grief.

In today’s reading, we see Job’s friends talk amongst themselves and agree to meet up at Job’s place to offer support. The text says, “When they saw him from a distance they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him because they saw how great his suffering was.”
Job 2:12-13

Job’s friends showed up, sat with him, cried, and didn’t say a word. Wait, not a word? Wouldn’t that be a little awkward? Where are the casseroles, cards, and condolences? Surprisingly, this silent treatment would not have seemed strange in the context of Jewish customs. They have a practice called “sitting Shivah.'' For 7 days after loss, members of the community will join the remaining family in silent mourning. They don’t try to make the mourner “feel better” they simply allow the process of grief to happen within the embrace of community.

After losing his wife, author C.S. Lewis wrote, “It is hard to have patience with people who say ‘There is no death’ or ‘Death doesn’t matter.’ There is death and whatever is matters.” Sometimes the things we say in an effort to answer grief or assuage mourning do neither.

As we progress through this story, Job’s friends attempt to be helpful and we learn that silent support is often worth more than sage-sounding responses. So if your friend is grieving, it might be a good idea to consider applying some Shivah principles. Ease the expectation for talking, fixing, or entertaining. Sometimes our silent presence is where God starts the healing process.

[10 minutes]
Write it out: Who is hurting around you? Who has a marriage on the rocks? Who is struggling to make ends meet? Take those names and put their needs next to them.

Pray it out: Before talking to the friends on your list, take time to talk to God about them. “Talk behind their backs” in a good way, through prayer! Your prayers will make a difference; one they will feel without you saying a word.
Live it out: Take time to BE with your friends and let God use you as a conduit of His healing presence.