A Season of … Joy?

November 21, 2011 - Serious Struggles

As we are approaching this holiday season, I am mindful that not everyone is without pain—many are suffering. Are you one of them? I’m asking because I’ve been there, and I learned quickly that people who love us—friends and family—don’t know what to say.

They are concerned about our wellbeing so they won’t ignore us, and try to ease our suffering by offering a well-placed verse of scripture … or something. Eventually, in an effort to break an awkward silence, someone who would never hurt us for anything may inadvertently say something that does hurt—something they never meant to say.

Even though people make mistakes, I realized it was those that really cared about me who were trying to comfort me in some way. They certainly weren’t trying to pick up a conversation to make themselves feel better.

I am reminded of Job’s friends who came to share his suffering and sat with him in silence. Job 2:12-13 records their initial reactions.

And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him 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.

For seven days and seven nights they were good friends—then they opened their mouths and everything changed. But the point is that they were good friends showing support without even speaking a word.

There were many who came to bear my pain with me on my journey. They came even though they knew it would be difficult to sit in silence or worse—awkwardness. They took my hand as it trembled, they prayed when words failed me, they cried and held me as I sobbed, they allowed me to grieve for the woman I loved without trying to stop the pain, because they knew they couldn’t.

Many of the people reading this blog were there for us and I am grateful. I encourage you—and everyone, to go to those who are suffering, and mourn with those who mourn, weep with those who weep as we are instructed in Romans 12:15,

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Yes, it’s difficult to make your way to that person’s front door, or to meet with them for coffee, or visit them in the hospital—but it makes a difference. You may feel that you don’t have anything to offer—that there are others more qualified. You’re wrong. If you have Christ in you, you have a great deal to offer. Satan will tell you otherwise—God won’t. If you say something wrong you’ll be forgiven, because those who are suffering know where your heart is.

If a voice is telling you not to go comfort that brother or sister, because there are others taking care of it—others more capable—more spiritual, it isn’t the voice of God. On the contrary—He is not eliminating you based on your level of Biblical education; He is interested in your obedience. God will handle the details. After all—His power is made perfect in our weakness.

This is a difficult time for many. Be there for whomever God calls you. Offer yourself, Christ, prayer, and tell them you love them—they’ll believe it. And if you’re the one suffering, tell someone. We are to bear each other’s burdens—we can’t do that if we don’t know what they are.

Question: How do you cope with loss? If you would share it here, it would help others.