“Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” Job 2:13 (NIV)
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I tried as hard as I could to keep my heart from shattering. At the first family function while my husband and I were separated, I didn’t want to mar the celebration with my heartache. On that gorgeous spring day, I pasted on a smile for the photos and pretended everything was fine. But right beneath the surface, my reservoir of tears was near to bursting.
As the party plodded on, my emotions swirled: relief that no one questioned me about our separation because I didn’t have any answers; embarrassment because everyone silently knew about our split; depression over this first unwanted milestone; worry that my three children wouldn’t enjoy the day as much without their father.
After two hours of awkward posing, I retreated to the front porch for a breather. Watching the children play in the yard, my emotions rose inside like a groundswell. I desperately wondered how I would keep myself together for the long drive home alone.
Alone. That was my overriding emotion. Utterly and permanently alone, I feared. Discouragement threatened to overwhelm me.
Right then, my brother-in-law joined me on the porch. Always a man of few words, he simply sat beside me. We eventually engaged in light conversation, mostly about the children. But I knew why he was really there. He wanted to make sure I didn’t feel so alone.
Driving home, I had a mini come-apart behind my sunglasses. What a relief to let some of my tears spill out. In the late afternoon sunlight, I grasped at reasons to be thankful, clinging to faith like a life raft. As I thanked God for my brother-in-law’s comforting presence, I remembered this scene in Job’s story:
“Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:13).
Job was enduring massive heartache — terrible and permanent losses shaking him to the core. Sitting in ashes, he was a pitiful sight.
His three friends ministered to him. They wept aloud, tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads (Job 2:12), all common expressions of grief in their culture. Then they sat beside him in silence for seven full days before ever speaking any words of comfort.
In the grief of my separation, what I needed more than anything was to know I wasn’t alone. When I felt alone, I was tempted to lose hope. Isolation is where Satan invites us to descend the staircase of despair. But when someone offers to sit alongside us in our pain, we can find comfort in the quiet power of community.
I’ve experienced other times when others quietly sat alongside me, listening and loving without words. I’ve learned that simply sitting alongside someone who is suffering is often the best way to show God’s love to them.
If you read further in the book of Job, you’ll see how his friends blundered their words. It’s so easy to say something unintentionally offensive to a grieving person, even when we’re trying to help. I’ve made that mistake before.
But because others demonstrated the quiet power of sitting alongside me in my pain, I’m learning to close my mouth and simply sit beside others who need care and comfort.
Many of us don’t know what to say or do when someone is hurting. Isn’t it refreshing to read this biblical example of simply sitting alongside someone to offer comfort? We can all learn to do this. When we sit beside others in their pain, God will work through us with His quiet power to remind them they are not alone, but seen and loved.
Father God, I want to comfort others like You have comforted me. Teach me how to comfort simply through the quiet power of sitting alongside them in their pain. I want You to be glorified as You comfort them through my silent presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (NIV)
Sometimes words are not enough. When someone you love is navigating hard seasons, it's natural to want to try to fix it. But when the pain is present and the heartache hasn't healed, it's hard to know how to love them best. We put together a new collection in our bookstore called “For a Hurting Friend” with resources to encourage her in the middle of whatever she is walking through. Click here to shop the collection.
Visit Sarah Geringer’s website today for a giveaway, plus a free printable of verses you can use to encourage others.
REFLECT AND RESPOND
Do you know someone who needs prayers for comfort? Do you need reassurance you aren’t alone in your pain? Share your thoughts and prayer requests in the comments.
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