Every man needs Job's comforters

Job's comforter

Job's comforter as someone who apparently offers consolation to another person but makes the other person feel worse.

Photo credit: Samuel Muigai | Nation Media Group

Job's comforters have a bad reputation. If you're unfamiliar with the Bible story, these are three men - Bildad, Eliphaz and Zophar - who came to see their buddy, Job after hearing about the unfathomable misery that had befallen him.

Dictionary.com defines Job's comforter as someone who apparently offers consolation to another person but makes the other person feel worse.

According to this definition, these are people that a man ought to avoid at all costs. But I beg to differ. Every man needs an Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, especially when one's going through a trying time.

Job's friends only erred when they opened their mouths. It's our urge to say something to hurting friends that sometimes makes matters worse.

Nobody talks about how, of all people, it's only these brothers who came to empathise with the richest man in the east. Yet, Job's children were known to throw lavish parties.

But the one thing that is lost on most readers of this Biblical account is that these friends "sat down with Job upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spoke a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great".

Seven nights

Seven days and seven nights. That's a testament to a true friendship. I recently went on a seven-day fast, taking a glass of water thrice a day. By the third day, it was a struggle getting out of bed, although things got easier around the sixth day.

Job's pals sat on ashes with him for seven straight days. The Bible is silent on whether they partook of any food or fluid, but most Bible scholars opine this was an impromptu fast forced by the plight of their friend.

A man needs friends like this trio. Friends who will drop all their businesses, meet you at your point of need, and fast for and with you. Friends who will not be ashamed to be seen with you after you are stripped of all your wealth and prestige.

Seven is the number of completion. A man in distress needs friends - ride or die, pals who will stick with him till the end, not folks who will make technical appearances, just so, when it's all over, they can say that they were there.

Besides, Job didn't send a word to his friends. They just heard it through the grapevine that their friend was in dire straits. There are times when issues of life rag-dolls a man. If ever, out of the blues, you feel like calling or visiting a friend you haven't spoken to in a long while, please know that it's his rag-dolled soul that sending an SOS.

Power of silence

Every man in distress needs friends who will know that, at times, there is no need to say a word. That their presence alone speaks volumes.

We usually underestimate the power of silence. But silence can sometimes make us converse and convey emotions in ways that even the most prolific speeches from Greek philosophers cannot.

One of my favourite poems is Breath. It was written by Birago Diop; a Senegalese storyteller, poet and prominent African francophone writer:

"Listen to Things

More often than Beings,

Hear the voice of fire,

Hear the voice of water.

Listen in the wind,

To the sighs of the bush."

Listening is an art that's possessed by a chosen few. And it's an even finer art to listen to "Things" and discern the voices of seemingly inanimate objects, such as fire, water and wind. I want friends who will be so attuned to my soul and suffering till they will hear - and respond to - what other folks cannot hear.

Me? I'd rather have three lively men show me some TLC, however imperfect it is, than a whole mob of "friends" on social media who type two letters - QR - then move on to the next story.

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