Friends in the ashes

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz…Bildad…and Zophar…heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.  When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights.  No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

Job 2:11-13

It’s hard to overstate the role of friends in our lives right now.  I love this picture of Job’s three friends.  They heard about what happened to Job, and immediately they went to him.  They met together, planning their trip, so they would be united for their friend.  They genuinely wept for him, they began the mourning process themselves.  And then they sat with him on the ground.  Just sat.  Didn’t speak, didn’t try to explain things, didn’t try to have something eloquent to say.  For seven days and nights they said nothing.

Their presence with him, though, said everything.

We have great friends, and whether they traveled great distances to be with us, or just across the street, I have had people “sitting” with me, with Dana, Bill, Martha, the kids.  Words are important and they have their place.  Many of you have offered heartfelt words and they are meaningful and helpful.  But presence is different.  There is a certain, unique power in it.  Even though this is a lonely road, your presence is helping.

In the middle here, I count it a blessing to have friends who sit with me in the ashes, who mourn, who grieve alongside, who don’t feel the need to offer empty words, who just want to be.  I can’t remember a lot of what people say in conversations these days, but I remember people.

Job’s three friends offer a real, beautiful example of what it means to mourn with one another, to bear one another’s burdens.  I’m thankful for the friends that are sitting with my family and me today.


 

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6 Responses to “Friends in the ashes”

  1. Paige Johnson Says:

    You do not know me, but I felt compelled to let you know
    how beautiful your words are and how meaningful they are to me. I
    did not know Susan personally, although I did take my first round
    of chemo beside her in early December. We never spoke, but even
    after I left Onc. Spec., I could not get her off my mind, perhaps
    because she was about my age. During my 2nd session, I asked about
    her and was told there was a webpage detailing her journey. It took
    me a little while to work up the courage to read it (only b/c I am
    traveling a similar road as she did, with small children as well),
    but I am so glad I finally did. Her courage and faith in the Lord,
    and your own honesty and faithfulness are truly uplifting to me. I
    pray that the Lord will begin to ease yours and your children’s
    pain while at the same time helping you to retain those wonderful
    memories you all shared together. The website is such a beautiful
    memorial to her and will be a wonderful way for her babies to put
    perspective on her struggle when they get older. God bless you
    all.

    • susanlaw Says:

      Thank you Paige. God bless you on your journey. You are in good hands at Oncology Specialists. We love those people. Keep me posted.

  2. Leigh Vlasblom Says:

    Jerel, I love following along with you on your journey. Know that you are contantly in our thoughts and prayers.

  3. Cathie Bowers Says:

    Jerel, Tom and I have experienced the exact same “presence” of friends. When Tom’s sis was brutally murdered near Chicago almost 34 years ago, all the folks around us (we were at Wheaton College) came with heartfelt shock & sorrow. They all quoted true Scripture which we knew & believed to be true. They all said the right evangelical things. And that was sweet. BUT, we had one couple from Nigeria who came, offered help (nothing to do) then proceeded to sit quietly over in a corner of our living room and pray. They stayed silently praying all day unless we got up & asked them to help in some way. Tom and I have never forgotten that lesson.

  4. Ruth Winn Says:

    Jerel,
    Your written words and your reliance upon God’s Holy Comforter are a very special inspiration to me. May God continue to bless you with His comfort and many praying friends.

  5. Beth Crigler Says:

    I loved reading the sweet article in the paper today about Susan!

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