A Friend When Other Friends Fail
Job 23:1-9, 16-17
A modern version of the story of Job might well take place against the background of the Aids pandemic. The physical appearance of Job reminds us of the physical condition of people who have Aids. However, the circumstances which Job had to cope with, may be even closer to today’s situation than we care to admit. It is well known that Job’s friends tried to explain to him that it was only possible for him to be in his situation if he had done a terrible sin. Obviously, when we speak of HIV and Aids, people’s moral choices also need to be challenged. But, as all pastors will acknowledge, it is not only the “bad” people who make wrong moral choices. These people are often church members, even church council members. Some are fortunate enough not to become HIV+. Others are not as lucky.
Amongst the millions who are HIV+ there is also a large percentage who became infected through no choice of their own. Like Job, they woke up one day, only to realise that their lives will never be the same again. To whom do you turn in times like these?
Too many HIV+ people have found that their friends – as in the case with Job – are only there to blame them. In these times it is comforting to know, regardless of why or how one acquired the virus, that God is willing to listen when one cries out to Him. Job knows that God will not reject him: “I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would find out what he would answer me, and consider what he would say. Would he oppose me with great power? No, he would not press charges against me. There an upright man could present his case before him, and I would be delivered for ever from my judge” (v 4-7 NIV).
The story of Job tells us today that people who are HIV+ can take heart that God will not turn His back to them when they call out to Him. He will not press charges against those who seek His comfort. But the story also warns us not to be too fast with our own words. Let us become true friends of those who have lost hope, not blaming them or accusing them, but becoming people who are willing to comfort others, regardless of who they are. This is the spirit that Jesus revealed to us and which he expects from us.