Sitting Shiva

And [Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar] sat with [Job] on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.
Job 2:13

The first time I ever saw a dead body was at the funeral of my grandfather.

It was weird, seeing him just lying there. He kind-of looked like he was asleep, but I knew better.

When my grandfather slept he made all kinds of noises. He wasn’t now. He also tended to jerk around some. He wasn’t now.

Most people go through their whole life seeing maybe a dozen or two dead bodies – attending funerals of loved ones and friends. The number tends to increase the older you get and the older your friends and family get.

But as a pastor for going on 22 years, I have been averaging 30-35 funerals per year. It’s an occupational thing, to be sure.

But I guess I never really thought about how many dead bodies I would see as a pastor when I was in school.

I’ve been to homes just as the funeral director gets there or even before he does. I’ve been in the hospital room or hospice room as death occurs.

And no matter how many times I witness death, I always have the same fear.

What do I say?

sitting-shivaThe best thing to say is … nothing at all. There is a Jewish custom about this called “Sitting Shiva.”

Shiva is the week-long period of mourning following a loved one’s death. During this time, family members traditionally gather to receive visitors. The word “shiva” means seven, signifying the seven-day mourning period in which mourners are supposed to sit low to the ground.

This is what Job’s three friends initially do upon hearing about the death of his ten children.

Take a look at this video from Matt Popovits on “What do say at a funeral.” Make sure your speakers are on and your sound is turned up on your computer.

The best thing about Matt’s video is when he says:

Death sucks.

God is good.

Jesus is fixing it.

When someone you know suffers the death of a loved one, just be there for them.

Sit with them. Pray for them. Offer them specific help, “Can I bring you a casserole on Thursday?” (I’m Lutheran, so casseroles are my go-to comfort food.)

Job’s three friends Sit Shiva with him for seven days. They get down in the dirt with Job. They grieve with him.

And that’s a good thing.

But after they are given permission to speak – because Job speaks first – they do some rather unhelpful things. That’s coming up in a future devotion.

©2017 True Men Ministries


Journey to Calvary – Lent 2016 Devotions available here.

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