My Close Friends Have Forgotten Me
Troubled times has a way of exposing the quality of a friendship. Shallow friendships fail. False friends flee. True friendships deepen. In a day when we are “friended” by many, friendships are few. A blessed person has one such close friend. A deeply blessed person has more than one.
Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) — 24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Job was not so blessed. His friends, rather than helping to bear his burdens (Gal. 6:2), piled further burden onto his burden by accusing him of wrong. He makes two arguments against his friends. In chapter 19, he says that even if they are right and God is punishing him for his sin, then they are wronging him by using his sin to magnify themselves. Their response to their friend’s sin is to condemn him while patting themselves on the back that God obviously likes them more. At a time when everyone else was abandoning him, they ought to have been there to suffer with him, rather than piling on his misery by assuming the worst about him.
We have already seen the falseness of Job’s friends’ assumption that his suffering is necessarily God’s judgment on his sin. We find Job’s second argument in chapter 21. Here Job drives this point home by emphasizing that often the unrighteous prosper in life. If the unrighteous prosper while God withholds His justice, then one can no more assume that trouble in one’s life is a sign of personal sin than they can assume that prosperity is a sign of personal righteousness (no matter what the Osteens or Joyce Meyer’s of the world may say).
If you find yourself the friend of a person going through a dark season, you may be tempted to avoid them for fear of knowing what to say. Your presence alone will say enough. If only Job’s friends had remained in the silence in which they spent the first week with him! The value of a true friend is that a friend knows you and knows your heart. Job’s friends did not know his heart.
If you find yourself going through a dark time of life, you may be tempted to look at others who are seemingly blessed, and assume that God must like them better than you. It could be that the opposite is true.
Proverbs 3:11–12 (ESV) — 11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, 12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
What if you find yourself alone and without friends to bear your burdens with you, as Job did? Perhaps even some of your trouble is the result of past sin that has a lingering impact, what of you? What hope do you have? With Job you can (you must) say:
Job 19:25–27 (ESV) — 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another…
How much better it is that this world would contain for us all the hell we would ever know, then that it should be all the heaven we will ever know. Know that your redeemer lives and He stands with you even if no one else does.