Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place--Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.
So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.
The Power of Silence
We are a chatty society. If we're not on the phone, we're sending e-mails. Should e-mail not be available, then we dispatch a fax. In fact, we're so addicted to verbal communication that many people can't leave home without a cell phone or pager in their pocket. Yet in times of sorrow, often silence says the most.
When Job's three friends arrived, they could tell that he was in deep grief. But rather than immediately offer their condolences, they sat with him on the ground for a whole week without saying a word. They restrained what must have been a strong urge to offer advice and suggestions and chose instead to express their sympathy by silently bearing his suffering with him.
In the presence of grief, words sometimes are a hindrance. Often we resort to speaking because we're uncomfortable with the silence rather than because we have something to say. Consequently, when trying to console a friend we often engage in empty cliches. People who have borne deep anguish, however, testify that it is the silent presence of those who care that brings the deepest comfort. It is not their words but their quietly sharing the load of sorrow that helps the bereaved bear up under suffering.
Don't be in a hurry to speak to those who are grieving. A hug or a squeeze on the arm may bring more comfort than a hundred words. Ask God's Spirit to make it clear to you when He has prepared your friend's heart to hear your words. Until then, let your comfort be expressed in silence and in prayer rather than words.
Less talk often means more comfort.