I'm reading the book of Job right now, and I have a confession to make: it's a difficult book for me to read.
That's because Job's "friends" make me mad.
Job calls them "worthless physicians" and that's what they are. After the unimaginable trauma and devastation Job just experiences, they come to him and tell him it's because of his sin. They try to correct him and call for his repentance. Surely God wouldn't allow a righteous person to suffer, they bluster.
In the face of the worst suffering of Job's life and the heat of his grief, his friends respond with outrageous arrogance and moral superiority.
That's not how a friend acts.
And it makes me so sad to think of a man crushed by grief looking for comfort and support from his friends only to find blistering condemnation.
Those friends were too judgmental and self-occupied to have any real empathy for Job.
And that makes me mad.
Until I realize how often I am like those bad friends.
How often do I jump in before I know all the facts?
How often am I so self-focused that I speak carelessly?
How often am I so judgmental that I lack empathy?
How often am I so convinced I'm right that I'm willing to tear someone else down to win an argument?
The painful answer is, Too often.
Job's friends infuriate me because they prick at my own conscience. I want to despise them when I'm actually like them. Because sometimes I think I'm better than I really am. It's examining my frustration with other sinners that makes me realize how sinful I am.
But there is rescue for self-righteous sinners.
There is rescue for bad friends, for frustrating counselors, for harsh speakers, for proud and graceless hearts. Rescue in the life-transforming, gloriously revolutionary grace of Jesus.
I hope Job's friends found that grace.
But today I know that I found it.