What do you say to a man grieving amidst a trajedy? What words do you use for a woman with a broken-heart?
Job is a lesson in what NOT to say to someone enduring a difficult time.
In our Scripture reading through Job, we've read the first response of Eliphaz to Job, and we've read a portion of Job's response to Eliphaz. Argumentative would be a good adjective for Job's response. Accusatory would be a good description for Eliphaz's.
Maybe this style isn't so bad, sometimes the awkwardness that people demonstrate around grieving, hurting people is worse then the controversial statements that some venture to make.
No... after thinking about it for a minute, I'd prefer silence. If you don't have anything helpful to say, don't say anything at all. Of course this phrase wouldn't apply to anyone because everyone qualifies their statements to people in pain as "helpful."
But for those thoughtful people who know that they have nothing to say, they make the other tragic mistake: they don't show up! They figure that if they have nothing to say, they should stay away. Yes, that is so helpful, stay away so that the struggling person can add lonliness to his long list of woes.
Eliphaz and his friends show up and spend SEVEN DAYS in SILENCE with Job. What a gift they are to him. Now if only they had left after the week of weeping. But then again, the dialogue they have with Job is essential to all of them gaining a better understanding of what is going on. Only in dialogue can people try to make sense of their complicated lives. If Eliphaz and friends had not shown up, God would not have shown up.
Note throughout the book of Job that the four friends who make speeches are trying to help Job understand why he is suffering; AND they are trying to figure out why Job is suffering. It doesn't make sense to them, and his suffering messes up their understanding of how the world works, and how God works.
So, if you are suffering, let people be with you, and let them make stupid comments; they are only trying to make sense of the complicated situation. If you have a friend going through a hard time, it is essential that you show up; say something if you want, say nothing if you want - either way it may be awkward...BUT IT IS BETTER THEN NOT SHOWING UP!!!!!
Enjoy Job...it is classic ancient poetry - you renaissance man you!