I started studying the book of Job in the Old Testament. I know. I know. The book of Job sometimes has a bad reputation of a sad and depressing book that most people avoid. I have found the exact opposite to be true!This is my 3rd time reading through the book of Job and I have found it to be full of depth and I learn something new every time I read it. Last night, I stumbled across something very surprising about what happens when we are walking through dark seasons of our life in regards to our faith and our friendships.
If you don’t know much about the book of Job, here is a little summary:
“The book of Job is Narrative History. Its author is unknown yet it is possible that Job himself wrote it. It is possible that Job is the oldest of any book of the Bible written approximately 2100-1800 B.C….In Job, we see a man who God allows to be directly attacked by Satan. He is an example of faithfulness as he loses everything important to him yet remains faithful to God. Its purpose is to illustrate God’s sovereignty and faithfulness during a time of great suffering.” (Source: The Book of Job Summary @ http://biblehub.com/summary/job/1.htm)
All caught up? Good!
Anyway, as I was reading Job Chapter 3. I noticed a shift in Job’s perspective of the suffering he was walking through. Up until that point he was still praising God and remaining faithful in the midst of intense pain. But suddenly in chapter 3 he started cursing the day he was born and wishing he was dead. What changed? I looked back at the end of chapter 2 and read again where Job’s friends had just visited him. Upon seeing Job’s dreadful condition they started tearing acting like he was dead and they started to mourn! If that doesn’t want to make you give up- I don’t know what will!
“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.” Job 2:12
The Bible goes on to say that his friends sat with him for seven days and seven nights and didn’t say ONE word to him during that time. This got me thinking about friendship and faith and what happens when we walk through painful seasons of our life. I asked myself a couple of questions…
- Do my friendships affect my level of faith?
- Does how my friends respond to my seasons of suffering play a role in how I respond?
- Do I respond in a way that brings hope, or despair, when my friends are in pain?
See! I told you Job had some deep content! *wink*
What I have experienced in my own life, and what Job clearly experienced in his, is that my friendship absolutely affect my level of faith. I need to have healthy friendships in my life for that very reason! I need to have women around me that will sit in silence with me-but will also speak words of hope in the midst of dark situations. I need to have people who help me shift my focus from despair to possibility when I am unable to remind myself of God’s faithfulness.
When Mandy nearly died in 2012, I knew that how I responded to the whole situation would affect how she would respond. If I reacted in fear and dread and began mourning for her…I knew she would give up too. I didn’t want to be the one who brought more fear into her life. She had plenty of people who were trying to do that. I wanted to be the one who brought hope no matter what the end result would be.
This is exactly the kind of friends you need in your life; and, the kind of friend YOU need to be! Your friends will make or break your faith! There is no way around that truth! You will become like who you hang out with. Friendship and faith are not mutually exclusive. They affect each other- either positively or negatively. How others around you respond to your situation will either cause you to be hopeful or will cause you to throw a major pity-party.
There is no doubt your friendships WILL affect your faith, just like Job’s friends affected his. We live life in community. You need to make sure the people around you are helping you move forward (even if it’s tiny baby steps!) and not holding you back. Make sure your friendships are building your faith. Make sure you are building the faith of YOUR friends, too. Be aware of the bad friendship habits that you have and make the choice to be the kind of friend who brings hope into each and every situation. It time to grasp arms with your courageous BFF’s and tackle the dark seasons of this life with hope and grace.