Few things hurt worse than being misunderstood, wrongly judged. These words penned by David also express well what Job must have felt when his so-called friends started talking. But for Job, it wasn’t just one familiar voice speaking words of condemnation, but three.
As I read the daily posts on the chronic illness prayer group that I moderate, the pain of being wrongly judged is an issue that repeatedly comes up. As I came to chapter 3 in my study of the book of Job, this is what immediately came to mind. And often, the hurtful words come from those to whom we should be able to look for support, our family and friends.
I don’t know any people with chronic illness who would not love to be healed. As a Christian, I believe God has the power to heal and I pray continuously for healing and relief from symptoms for myself and others. This is definitely not an area I fully understand, but experience tells me that some are healed physically in their earthly bodies and others are not. If you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, keep asking for healing. But DO NOT turn your back on God if you are not healed! Keep seeking His face. Continue living to please Him in everything you do. Don’t give into doubts about His love when the pain continues. Know you are loved, and respond to His love by loving Him with your whole heart.
Let’s look at the words of Job’s friends in a little more detail:
- The first fact revealed about Job’s friends in Job 2:11 is after hearing of his troubles they met together by agreement and went to sympathize with Job and comfort him. A good goal! They then sat with their friend for seven days before they began offering their opinions.
- The first friend to speak was Eliphaz the Temanite. Some of what Eliphaz said is true; for example, his statement in Job 4:8, “those who plow evil, and those who sow trouble will reap it” is true. But Eliphaz’ conclusion that Job’s suffering was because of his sin was wrong. In simple terms, Eliphaz looked at Job and said, “You’re only getting what you deserve.”
- Next, we meet Bildad the Shuhite. He begins, “How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind.” (Job 8:2) In essence he says, “Job, if you would just admit you have sinned, all of this would stop.”
- The last friend to speak is Zophar the Naamathite. He goes even a step further than the first two in saying, “Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.” (Job 11:6) In other words, Zophar was saying, “Job, your sin deserves even more suffering than you’ve experienced.”
Job’s three friends had reputations for being wise, yet any wisdom in their words was negated by judgmental attitudes. Their explanations of Job’s suffering lacked compassion. They lacked correct understanding of the true nature of God. Later in the book, God rebukes them, saying to Eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7)
My heart breaks for my brothers and sisters in Christ who live with the physical and emotional strain of chronic illness. And it aches even more for those who don’t have family and friends to encourage and strengthen them as they walk this difficult path.
If you have a friend with chronic illness, please don’t be like Job’s friends. Take every opportunity to encourage and help lift the load of those who hurt. If you personally suffer with chronic illness, don’t judge yourself and conclude that you have done something terrible to bring this upon yourself.
God does convict of sin, but His conviction is specific and leads to repentance. If God shows you an area of sin, confess it to the Lord and receive His forgivenss. But recognize God is not the source of condemnation. Remember the truth of Romans 8:1-2. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”