March 10, 2021
Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him.
“I hate times like this! I never know what to say!”
My friend was relating his frustration and stress about attending a funeral visitation in a few hours. Someone in his community had passed away unexpectedly, and the gatherings and mourning had begun.
I could relate to his nerves! I’ve spent most of my life striving to be correct, to make no mistakes and to “say the right thing” every time (the impossible standard of the achiever). And to me, no time seemed more dicey for “saying the right thing” than when others are deeply hurting or in tears. You want to help, of course… but how? What do you say?
Being present for others who are hurting seems pretty straightforward on the surface, yet it makes many of us uncomfortable. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I offend them somehow accidentally? What if I try to give comfort and it makes them uncomfortable instead? What if? What if? What if?
Well, as it turns out it’s really not complicated at all. And Job’s friends got it right (at least at the start!). When they heard about Job’s misery, they just came to be with him. That was it.
I remember very few of the things people said to me when I’ve been hurting in my life. But one thing I do recall, very clearly, is who was there. I remember my friend Tony came by my house when my high school girlfriend broke up with me. I remember Lee sat by the lake with me, wordlessly, when I struggled with a deep depression. I remember Todd quietly listening when I poured out my fears about losing my job of 25 years. Honestly, I didn’t care what they said. They didn’t need to say a word. Their presence said everything I needed.
Do you know, God came to be with us when we were hurting as well? He did so when He took on human flesh and paid the penalty for our sins when we were lost in a broken world. But He’s also present throughout our lives, every second of every day – to listen, to comfort and just be there. He. Is. Present.
Ask God today to show you more about how He is present for you in your circumstances today. Then, looking to the future, how might you gratefully live this out? Who do you know who is hurting that you could be present for this week?