Job’s One Good Friend

Commentary

I wrote this after talking briefly with a friend who was struggling. It seemed to me that the friend needed nothing so much as a brother to share his burden — a brother who is willing to suffer alongside, to let the smoke blow in his own face. No lectures. No correction. Silent compassion can speak louder than words. At least that’s what I’m told.

Why “Job’s One Good Friend”? The biblical character Job had friends who sat with him for a while in silence. They had come together “to show him sympathy and comfort him.” But then they opened their mouths, and it wasn’t helpful. It seems that the one who came closest to being a true friend kept his mouth closed the longest.

And why a campfire? If you’ve ever sat around a campfire in the mountains, you know that as the wind direction shifts, the smoke sometimes blows in your face. Some guys feel that they are the target, no matter where they sit! I picture Job and his friends sitting around such a campfire, perhaps one that burned down to embers and then to ashes. “And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.”

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