When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, 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; NIV).

We often only hear about Job’s three friends in a negative light. From Job 4–37, we find numerous accounts of these men accusing Job of sin or making erroneous assumptions about the cause of Job’s suffering. What happened for them to go so far off track? For the first seven days, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar simply sat with Job, not saying a word and supporting him in his suffering. Job had three fantastic friends, right up to the point where they decided to open their mouths. Then everything went downhill.

Before I start accusing Job’s friends of their insensitivities, perhaps I should have a good look in the mirror. Perhaps we all should. I can certainly testify to being like Job’s friends. With all sincere intentions from family and friends in supporting my sister-in-law and her family through the suffering of my brother Rob, we would all have to admit that we made mistakes in helping them.

Whether it is incorrect assumptions or unhelpful statements or something else, every human being needs to understand how easy it can be to hurt those who are already hurting. Stressful situations, such as watching a loved one suffer, can bring out the worst in us if we are not careful. I have learned that we need to be on a careful self-watch for this.

The one thing it does highlight, however, is that we are again burdened by limitations. Just as Job’s friends were limited in their understanding of why Job was going through his suffering, we are also limited in our understanding of each individual tragedy. Sometimes it is best for us to simply be like Job’s friends in the first seven days and just be there. Sure, we can provide a meal, transport, and moral support, or any other practical need, and we should. When it comes time to open our mouths, however, perhaps we should consider very carefully whether it really needs to be said and whether our mortal limitations have hindered our insight.

The ongoing frustration of living as limited beings is the frustration of mystery. We have learned by reading this book that the basis for all suffering is original sin. Yes, we do live in a sin-corrupted and cursed world, but beyond this fact there is also mystery. Just as Job and his friends did not have the insight to know about the satanic affliction Job was suffering and just as my family will never really know for sure about what caused Rob’s illness, we will all be left with many unanswered questions.

It is in these times that we should stick to the facts. Hopefully the foundational facts have been made overwhelmingly clear as you have read through the pages of this book. The facts clearly point to an all-powerful Creator, a perfect original creation, and a rebellious human race that caused that creation to be cursed by our sin. While our sin caused a corrupted creation, our God remains incorruptible. It is because of this that we turn to Him in acceptance of His infinite wisdom for the other questions that will remain unanswered in our lifetime in this world. The one thing we can all know is that the effect of sin is indiscriminate and every human being will likely face death. But not every human being will face death.

Through James (the brother of Jesus), God has given us some great teaching in helping us to bear the load of suffering and turmoil we have in this world as His children.

In James 5:7 we read, “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.” Whether our suffering is at the hands of others or due to something inexplicable, those who have come to faith in Jesus Christ can be hopeful of a wonderful future. James tells us that the Lord is coming. One day, maybe sooner than we realize, Jesus will come again to this world just as He left it. He will come in triumph and final judgement. We may be the ones that witness His final consummation and, depending on your relationship with Christ, this becomes either a hopeful anticipation or a terrible dread.

The truth is, my brother Rob has faced death prior to the second coming of Christ. He is now healed in the presence of Christ for eternity. One day, everyone who has experienced salvation in Jesus Christ will be healed, and yet even this is not the greatest reason to look forward to being in heaven. Something even greater awaits us in heaven than healing.

The Presence of God

Can you imagine an eternity in the presence of God unhindered by any limitation of sin placed on our relationship with Him? What a glorious existence that will be. We don’t deserve it, but He is giving it anyway. This is the greatest “why” question. It is the question that we will leave you asking, and we will let you ask it in the words of one of the greatest hymns ever written.

And Can It Be That I Should Gain?

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all: th’ Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

(Words by Charles Wesley)

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