At first they did not recognize him. He had changed — scrawny, eyes hollowed out from the now drooping cheeks, seated almost lifeless, covered in ash and filth. It was if he had endured torture and was now barely holding on as death waited nearby to claim its prize.
They had come to comfort and mourn, but wailed and were shocked at what they saw. And then they just sat down on the cold hard ground alongside of him and said nothing. They sat there for seven days and seven nights and no one spoke. Sometimes grief is so very great that silence is the only offering of respect. They waited until he was ready to talk.
The story of Job and his three friends begins in chapter 2 and consumes most of the remainder of the book. As you read the accusations of the friends, Job must have done something really bad to provoke God; and in Job's claim of innocence and bewilderment, it's easy to forget that up until the time they opened their mouths, they were doing what good friends do when one is hurting.
They traveled a great distance, grieved with their friend and waited until he was ready to talk. This is how it is described in Job 2:11-15.
Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.
That story from ancient times is repeated countless times in living rooms, by hospital beds and at funeral homes when friends come without adequate words to support, comfort, mourn with those that are hurting.