Posted July 9th, 2016
It's okay to take time to sit and grieve
Now when Job's three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home-Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to go and console and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.
- Job 2:11-13
Job's friends were pretty exceptional friends...that is, until they opened their mouths! When they heard what had happened to their friend, they immediately went to him. They participated in the ancient ritual of grief - tearing clothes and putting dust on one's head - and then they sat with Job in the ashes of his life. They sat, and sat, and sat, and sat, and sat for seven days and seven nights. They sat and didn't say a word.
In the Jewish tradition, there is a wonderful custom of sitting shiva. Shiva is the Hebrew word for seven. When a person dies, their immediate family sits shiva in the home for seven days after the funeral. Mourners and friends visit them with the sole purpose of bringing comfort. Often, they show up with food as well. This ancient custom which is still practiced today among Jewish families goes all the way back to the book of Genesis when Joseph mourns the death of his father, Jacob, for seven days.
I've often wished our Christian tradition had a similar custom to help us grieve. Too often we rush back into life after the death of someone we love, not giving ourselves enough time to begin to work through the immediate waves of grief that come in those first days and weeks. We put on a good face, bottle up our emotions and get back to the tasks at hand, only, often times, to find that the grief comes pouring out later down the road in one way or another.
In worship this weekend, we'll hear what happens when the silence is broken. Let's just say Job's friends are much better sitters than they are talkers in the midst of Job's tragedy. But before we get there, let's take a minute to remember that when faced with grief - whether it is over the death of someone we love or some other significant loss in our life - it's okay to take time to sit and grieve. As a church family, we are called to sit with one another to grieve so that no one ever finds themselves sitting alone.
t's okay to take time to sit and grieve