We all have these “friends” (and I use that word loosely): the friends who complain about their friends to other friends. They might even post the aforementioned rants on social media – these are called Vaguebook posts. Vague in that if you’re reading it and wonder if they’re talking about you – they probably are. They are brave enough to make you feel like crap as you sit there and wonder… but they clearly do not care enough about the friendship to come talk to you about the issue.
Instead they care about themselves only. They want sympathy from others over a resolution to whatever it is they are whining about. They don’t even realize the hurt, fear, disappointment they are bringing on the friends who are listening to that complaint. I’ve seen parents do this on social media about their own kids/family members. I’ve overheard individuals in a coffee shop chat it up about a friend who is not present. I’ve even overheard people talking about me in this way.
Shoot, I’m not blameless. I’ve done this as well. I know how easy it is to slide down the slippery slope we mask by saying “I just want the best for that person” as we justify the treatment. And in reality, some might even see this blog post as me being guilty of the same thing.
Ouch. Let’s think on this today…
So for our own edification here… let’s look at Job and his friends.
Job was being tested. His life sucked. Downright stunk! And his attitude headed south in the midst of the storm.
A quick recap before we join in at a certain point of his life: Job’s oxen were stolen and field hands killed, lightning struck and killed his sheep and shepherds, his camels were raided and the camel drivers killed, all of his children died when a tornado hit the house they were in and it collapsed, and then Job was struck with terrible sores. Job was covered in ulcers and scabs from head to foot. “They itched and oozed so badly that he took a piece of broken pottery to scrape himself, then went and sat on a trash heap, among the ashes.” (Job 2:8)
What does this have to do with whining about others? Stay with me.
“Three of Job’s friends heard of all the trouble that had fallen on him. Each traveled from his own country—Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuhah, Zophar from Naamath—and went together to Job to keep him company and comfort him. When they first caught sight of him, they couldn’t believe what they saw—they hardly recognized him! They cried out in lament, ripped their robes, and dumped dirt on their heads as a sign of their grief. Then they sat with him on the ground. Seven days and nights they sat there without saying a word. They could see how rotten he felt, how deeply he was suffering.” Job 2:11-13
They didn’t sit around and talk about him. They went to him. They treasured his friendship so much that they went out of their way for him… they traveled for God-knows-how-long on the backs of animals to get to their friend. His friends sat with him in silence for a whole week! His friends mourned with him. His friends interceded for him.
And what does Job do? He cries out to die. He cursed the day he was born.
Now what do his friends do? They cared enough about him as an individual that they encouraged him to focus on God’s promises.
They didn’t leave him. They didn’t desert him and go to the local coffee shop and talk about what a quitter he was. They called him on the carpet, in a loving way of course.
They were friends… by the true definition.
They offered grace. What are we offering our loved ones?
Introducing my UPCOMING BOOK – “Campouts, Quicksand, and Cesspools – A Journey through Life’s Messes”. I hope you will join me in the upcoming months as we take this journey together! I am beyond thrilled to have finally found the words and emotions to openly share these lessons.
Introduction: I know a lot of Christians who are really good at camping out in fields of hypocrisy, knowingly following their friends right into quicksand (and justifying their reasons for why) and even inviting their friends along with them into their own cesspools of junk … all while on their our journey to forgiveness.
Sometimes unintentionally, but sometimes we even set out to do so. Stupidly, some of us actually wanted to get ourselves stuck. We even wanted to take others down when we went – because having our friends join us in a pool of bitterness would make for a great party. Right?! (wink)
It has taken me an inordinate amount of time to learn these lessons: the meaning of unconditional love and His true gift of grace. He has graciously set me free. Thank you for the opportunity to tell you about the lifelong journey I’ve taken to get unstuck. Parts of this journey even involved a number of u-turns. Yours doesn’t have to take a lifetime. There is hope in the journey when we abide in Him.