Praying for your “Friends”
After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. (Job 42:10)
Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar – not common names and certainly not what you would consider friends. Not only did they blame the victim Job, by insisting that his suffering was caused by sin, they misrepresented God. With friends like that, who needs enemies!
Many of us have had similar friends, aptly named Job’s comforters. They misjudged our troubling situation, provided simplistic solutions and even used Scriptures to prove their point. These friends are not safe. They are toxic, and hurt us time after time.
Yet in the end we’re told that after Job prayed for his friends, God restored what he had before. To be clear, Job’s prayer was not aimed at justifying what they had done to him. In the prior verses, God calls them out — “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (v7) God instructed them to atone for their sin by offering sacrifices. Then why the prayer?
In the beginning of his story, we are told that Job regularly interceded for his family. God bless them, be merciful, forgive them, protect and preserve them, etc. By doing so, he reflected the character of God, who is compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love and mercy (Exodus 34:6). At the end of his ordeal, Job intercedes for his “friends”; not because they were right, but because they needed mercy. As James tells us: Mercy triumphs over judgment. (2:13)
Maybe your story is like Job’s. You have had friends who hurt you deeply by misreading your troubles and by misrepresenting God. Instead of praying for vengeance, or even justice — intercede for them. Let God take care of the rest. Who knows? Restoration may be on the way for you as well!