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The secret of being a good friend

The book of Job is a wonderful resource in the Bible and it teaches us so many things. First and foremost, about suffering. And among many other lessons, it also teaches us about friendship. It shows us how a good friend should NOT behave.

Friends holding hands

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto/typhoonski

You probably know the story. God allows the devil to take everything that Job has and even inflict him with diseases. He loses everything, and he doesn’t understand what is happening to him, and all throughout the story he tries to figure out why he is going through all that suffering.

During his ordeal, Job wasn’t alone, he had friends with him. You might think that it must have been a good thing, right? Wrong. I think that Job would have preferred to suffer alone if he had a choice. Why?

His friends were convinced that good people didn’t suffer. So if all those tragedies happened to Job, he must’ve sinned. He couldn’t be innocent. However, he was. But that idea never crossed their minds, although Job said it many times.

As Job lamented his condition, the friends were more concerned in preaching to him than in comforting him. They thought they were right, and so their obligation was to correct Job and force him to admit his wrongdoings.

This is how they made Job feel:

All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me. (Job 19:19)

Job’s friends forgot to do two basic things:

1. Listen and empathize

When Job talked, they weren’t really listening. They were just preparing their next argument. With every word Job said, they were just planning their next response. They were men with a mission: to make Job confess his sin and admit he deserved what was happening to him.

If they had paid attention not only to Job’s words but also to his behavior all throughout his life, they would have at least considered the possibility that he was in fact innocent. That he didn’t deserve what he was getting. That maybe, bad things (at least that’s how they saw it) could happen to good people.

Listening means paying attention to the speaker, empathizing with their situation. Not worrying about what you will say. Just listening to what your friend has to say and caring about him/her.

2. Pray

If Job’s friends had prayed to God before saying a word to Job, God would’ve guided them. Even if things didn’t make sense, God would have easied their hearts so they could be true friends.

They weren’t supposed to preach to Job or make him admit anything, they were supposed to just be there for him, pray for him, comfort him, just be a friend.

It’s not about being right (because we often aren’t), it’s about being there. It’s about sharing the burden, suffering together, crying together, putting yourself in your friend’s place. It’s about caring. It’s about loving.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15)

The is a song called “More than you’ll ever know” by Watermark (also one of my favorites) that is like a recipe of how to be a good friend. I’ve found a live version of this song at YouTube. Check out the lyrics and then the video below. I hope you will enjoy it.

More than you’ll ever know – Watermark

Something brought you to my mind today
I thought about the funny ways you make me laugh
And yet I feel like it’s okay to cry with you
Something about just being with you
When I leave I feel like I’ve been near God
And that’s the way it ought to be…

CHORUS:
‘Cause you’ve been more than a friend to me
You fight off my enemies
‘Cause you’ve spoken the Truth over my life
And you’ll never know what it means to me
Just to know you’ve been on your knees for me
Oh, you have blessed my life
More than you’ll ever know, yeah, yeah, yeah
More than you’ll ever know, yeah, yeah, yeah

You had faith, when I had none
You prayed God would bring me a brand new song
When I didn’t think I could find the strength to sing
And all the while I’m hoping that I’ll
Do the kind of praying for you that you’ve done for me
And that’s the way it ought to be…

REPEAT CHORUS

You’ve carried me
You’ve taken upon a burden that wasn’t your own
And may the blessing return to you
A hundredfold, oh yeah…
A hundredfold, oh yeah…

REPEAT CHORUS

Question for you: have you ever been in a situation that you felt your friend let you down?


  • Joanne Norton

    Job is one of the most difficult books for me  to read. I have some  of the  verses underlined as great, some of the teaching is absolutely amazing…and some of the bits and pieces make me want to strangle folks or tear our their tongues… in only a patient and kind way, of course.  What’s really tough is that SOME of what the friends say is true, in general, but it’s not true re: approaching the individual situation and circumstance.  Takes using your heart… not your head.  I have more than one book about it, and one of them is by a pastor who wrote poems with a little narrative.  I’ve used his approach before; heart touching, to say the least.

    You’re working hard in the sharing and teaching aspect,  Cris.   That is a blessing for many.

    Thanks.

    • http://www.justcris.com/ Cris Ferreira

      Thank you so much, Joanne! You’re a blessing for me!
      About Job, I remember that the first time I read it full, I kind of agreed with some of the things the friends said. Then God came and said that they didn’t say the truth as Job had (and he had complained all the time!).
      It is interesting to see how we may think that we are right, we may think that we are doing a good thing, but if we don’t follow the Holy Spirit guidance, we might be acting against God’s will… Scary, isn’t it?
      But it enforces how dependent we are on Him. And that’s another lesson from Job, I think.
      Blessings, sister!