The image of Job’s three friends have not been a positive one, neutral is possibly as good as it gets because they did not speak of God rightly.
It came about after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. (Job 42:7 NASB)
One thing stands out to me like a breathe of fresh air was Job 2:11-13.
Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him. When they lifted up their eyes at a distance and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky. Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great. (Job 2:11-13 NASB)
I want to highlight the fact that all three of them sat with Job in silence for SEVEN DAYS! This means that no one gave their five cents worth to Job about his situation for a whole week. I ask myself if I will do the same for my friends. Ashamedly, my answer is highly unlikely. I am one who does not speak a lot and I can go by a day without uttering a word if I am in my own personal space without another person. Verbal fast is not as difficult as a food fast for me! Yet, in such a situation as Job, I do not think I am able to remain silent for seven days. For seven hours, it might be possible to shut my mouth and be there. Seven days is far out though. I can hardly imagine anyone in an urban city can do as a Job’s friends. The temptation for most of us is to give possible solutions to the situation once we sit down.
The silence was broken by Job and not his friends. It was after Job spoke that the friends spoke. These friends stood by Job even though he lost everything and they were definitely not fair-weathered friends. They are not perfect as none of us are. True enough their perception of God in Job’s situation was not helpful. Yet it is good to bear in mind that the situation of Job is beyond what most people can comprehend based on common view of God and life.
One thing I know, I would certainly appreciate having such friends in my life who are willing to go through thick and thin even though they cannot understand 😄… Moreover, their hearts are tender towards God that they are willing to humble themselves to ask for prayer from Job at the end of it…