Go! for Lent: Job 2:11
One sentence from the story of Job tells a myriad about whom he is and how he is thought of and cared for. It begs the question, “how do we suffer with each other?” and recognizes go as an intention, a contemplation, and a ministry.
For many who are familiar with Job, we know that he experienced much suffering. The role he plays in the Old Testament is one of significance. His stance is one of great faith and perseverance. If that is not enough, God allows Satan to persecute him tremendously. Such is an example for us when we want to say, “Why me, Lord?” More important, and considering the theme of GO for this reflection, is the result of an individual’s suffering on those who know him well. For who else knows our suffering more than those closest to us?
Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home – Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to go and console and comfort him. –Job 2:11
Highlighted from this verse, other than the obvious go, are the words friends, troubles, set out, met together, console, and comfort. Job is righteous; without too much doubt, he probably has righteous friends. Old Testament history informs that these are all leaders and very well may be chieftains from different tribes of people. They are intentional in their posture to GO to Job, setting out on what seems to be a journey for all of them. Also significant is that they meet as opposed to showing up one by one. There may be an implication of community, one that certainly foreshadows that of the Body of Christ. As a unit, they go to Job, saddened and affected by his condition of suffering.
All this suggests that when one has the courage to enter where life is experienced as most unique and most private, one touches the soul of the community. The man who has spent many hours trying to understand, feel, and clarify the alienation and confusion of one of his fellow men might well be the best equipped to speak to the needs of the many, because all men are one at the wellspring of pain and joy. Nouwen 73
Christian leadership – stepping out of the self to be one in suffering with another – must consider the “fair weather friend” and their neighborly ways compared to the true friend and their willingness to be present regardless of the circumstances. One of the annotations in this chapter of Job suggests that the friends did not do anything except mourn with him. Job is covered in sores, and he is isolated and alone. Perhaps in his loneliness, the act of suffering with him is much more significant than any other action. Celebration in suffering would have been inappropriate. A vision of hope from this one verse of Job is that we are called together in suffering; such a theme is one carried through to the New Testament, and is a reminder to what we are called to do as Christians daily and during the season of Lent.