The Value of Friendship: What Job’s Friends Got Right

When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.  When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.

Job 2:11-13, NLT

In 2001, I worked as a nurse full-time and attended seminary part-time. I also served as the Minister of Christian Education at my church. It was a busy, challenging, and rewarding time for me. Everything went well—until I discovered a mass in my breast in September. Within weeks, I was receiving cancer treatment with chemotherapy. The oncology nurse was now the patient.

Coming face to face with my mortality and losing control over my life reminded me of God’s control. I am grateful for His provision of family and friends who walked alongside me during my cancer treatment journey.

Job 2:11-13 speaks to the value of the presence of friends during a crisis. In reading Job’s story, we often focus on what his friends got wrong; but what did they do right?

  • First, when Job’s three friends heard about his tragedy, they came together and traveled to comfort and console Job. They cared enough to devote time and resources to see about their friend! (2:11)
  • Second, when his friends saw him from a distance, they realized that what they heard did not describe what they saw. Job’s condition was so grave they hardly recognized him. They could have turned away from Job, but instead, they grieved with him. (2:12)
  • Third, it was customary to comfort someone in mourning by remaining silent in their presence until they spoke. So, the friends sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights and did not speak. They saw that his suffering was too great for words. I have great friends, but I do not believe they, nor I, would remain silent for seven days. They would offer food, water, anything, but not complete silence. (2:13)

Presence requires us to show up. Moving beyond social media posts, text messages, and telephone calls require intentionality, time, and resources.

So many unimaginable and tragic situations can take our breath away. Hurt and suffering may be so profound that well-meaning, but scripted words do not help. Too often, we think we must recite a passage of Scripture or say something spiritually profound. Friends in crisis need our presence, companionship, and to know that we care enough to be there. Silence is truly golden.

I am grateful for my friends who showed up during my cancer diagnosis and treatment twenty-one years ago. We all need people who answer the 2 a.m. call and come when needed. They inspire us to become a better person and friend. They encourage us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, our greatest friend and comforter.

The next time you read the book of Job, pause for a moment at 2:11-13 and remember what his friends did right, embrace the lessons learned, and strive to become a better friend yourself.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.   

Maya Angelou

Talulah Ruger, RN, MSN (MACE, 2006) serves on the leadership team for the DTS-Houston Alumni Association. A retired oncology nurse, she is a Bible teacher, motivational speaker, and writer. Talulah is the CEO and founder of Talulah Ruger Ministries, a teaching ministry to inspire and motivate people 50 and older to use their faith experience and life stories to positively influence the now generation and the next through intergenerational mentoring. She is also an instructor for the Opened Bible Academy.