“When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.” Job 2:11 (NIV – The Ministry of Presence)
I was sitting in the emergency room with my husband who was recently admitted with a bowel obstruction. They decided to give him pain medication and observe him overnight. The next day he was transferred to the stroke unit as a bed became available. It was hard for him to have to share a room with three other men, especially when most had just come through a stroke and lacked the ability to talk or communicate in a way that was understandable, and some had dementia or other complications that made sleep very difficult.
During my husbands hospital stay he was put on quite a bit of pain medication, so we did not speak much. I tried to make conversation about different things to try and entertain him a little bit, but for the most part he seemed to want to sleep, which I understood.
I looked over and noticed a woman sitting with her husband, and it was very odd to me because she sat there reading a book the entire time and not speaking. Of course, her husband did just have a stroke and had a bit of a hard time pronouncing words, but he could communicate. I then thought to myself, well maybe this is what they would do at home, so perhaps this was something of comfort for him. He looked out the window while she read.
A revelation came to me, that sometimes in situations people don’t always want to talk, they just need your presence. There is something comforting about having a familiar presence around when you are going through something. Too often we like to ramble off the deep end when someone is going through a struggle. I put myself in the situation, and realized that if I was in pain, I would probably want quiet as well, but I would certainly want someone I loved around me.
Job went through many struggles in his lifetime. But in one particular scenario, Jobs three friends were there at his side to comfort him. They saw the pain he was in, and knew that words would not help at that particular moment, so they simply comforted him with their presence. In this instance there was no such thing as awkward silence. It was a necessity. It was also a tradition in those days to do such a thing, and is carried on today.
“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 Bible Gateway
There are times when I am struggling, and although I cannot always hear the voice of God, as long as I can feel His presence, that is enough comfort for me in my time of need.
“When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million, empty words.” – Thelma Davis