Say what you will about Job’s friends. It’s true. Once they started yammering, they wove their strands of talking points between what was true and what they only wished were true until it’s no wonder Job didn’t lash them all together with that rope and walk away, leaving them bound to discuss his plight amongst themselves into exhaustion.
But for seven days — an entire week — they held their knowing tongues and grieved alongside their friend in silence.
When they arrived, Job was in such emotional anguish and physical distress they did not even recognize him. This could no longer be the greatest man in the East. He was a blistered and scabbed shell of a man, the rhythmic scraping of his flesh with a shard of sun baked clay the only sign he was even still alive.
They did the thing that true friends do. They sat with him in the ashes. The tore their own clothes and screamed to the heavens. They poured dust on their own heads and mourned.
Their lament wrapped its arms around Job’s and they wept together.
They sat together, bearing witness to suffering, letting silence say what words would soon enough dissolve.
Seven days. For more than ten thousand minutes they managed to keep their lips from moving, tongues from wagging. Not a single word.
Say what you will about Job’s friends. But I’m not sure that I know how to love the way seven days of silent communion does.
Posted as part of an ongoing, albeit irregular, series on the Book of Job. Read related posts here.