Job opened his mouth ...

Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. (Job 2:11-3:1 ESV)

The Jewish practice of Shiva is modeled after this passage of scripture and reflects the seven days that Jacob mourned the death of his father Isaac. During Shiva family members gather for seven days in the home of the one who died and simply sit in mourning sharing meals and time with loved ones. The image of Shiva and this passage from Job speaks so deeply to me. Sometimes there are simply no words to say. Sometimes our presence is all we have in such times.

The man covered in agonizing boils breaks this week long silence with words that express an unimaginable pain. No longer can Job contain his hurt. The weight of his losses can no longer be kept within. I can feel the despair and see the tears as this blameless man confesses what he has no doubt been thinking all week. Sometimes our pain is so great that we wish that we were not present to experience it. Often our pain is so hard to express - even to dear friends.

Lord, please bring the comfort of silent friends to those who are experiencing pain today.

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