This past Sunday, I had the honor of leading children’s worship at Ozark Free Will Baptist Church. We had a good time singing, playing games, and talking about God. I’m very glad they asked me to come. But before children’s service, I attended the church’s adult Sunday School class. We talked about Job, the story from the Bible of a godly man who lost everything but still kept his faith. Mike, the teacher, read from Job 2, and a couple of verses really stood out to me.
“Now when Job’s three friends—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite—heard about all this adversity that had happened to him, each of them came from his home. They met together to go and sympathize with him and comfort him… Then they sat with him seven days and seven nights, but no one spoke a word to him because they saw that his suffering was very intense.” —Job 2:11, 13 (HCSB)
Job was going through the most difficult time of his life. He had lost his possessions, his children, and his good health, all in a very short period of time. He knew that he hadn’t done anything to deserve all of these terrible things. Job was hurting, confused, and alone. And when his friends came to him, what did they do? They simply sat there with him.
We all have a tendency to want to fix things. When we see a loved one that’s hurting, we want to do something to make their situation better, or say something that offers them some sort of comfort. The desire to help is good, and there is a time and a place for doing things, but sometimes—really, most of the time—what our hurting loved ones need is simply our presence. Not our words. Not our actions. Just us.
Until you’re in a situation where you really need someone, you can’t fully understand how much it means just to know that you’re not alone. Just to be able to look beside you and know that someone is there. Just to be able to look into someone’s eyes and know that they care for you and that they’re there for you. I think we forget that when we’re trying to comfort people. We busy ourselves with trying to find the right words to say or the right things to do when we could be so much more help if we just stopped and sat with the person for as long as they needed.
Being present is hard. When you’re sitting next to someone who is going through something you can’t even being to understand and you see their pain and all you want to do is help, it’s hard to stop and just be there. We live in a world that is so hectic and fast-paced. We forget what it’s like to be completely present in one place for a while. It takes effort. It’s much more difficult than talking. But it’s so important that we choose to be present with people when they’re hurting, because that’s what they really need.
And when we choose to present with someone who is in pain, that’s when we really can connect with them. That’s when we can feel their pain with them and at least get a glimpse of what they’re going through. We can understand them better, and that can be good for the comforter as well as the person who is in pain. It creates a mutuality that words just can’t. It’s a beautiful thing.
I’ve been guilty of not being present when trying to comfort people who are in pain. Especially if it’s someone who is constantly coming to you for comfort, it can be difficult to be fully present every time. But when you half-heartedly try to comfort someone in pain while not being fully present, you actually do more harm than good. Making someone feel like they’re not worth your full attention when they need someone to rely on can not only hurt them but also limit the likelihood of that person coming to you for help in the future. Being present with someone who’s hurting is the most difficult way of comforting them, but it’s the best way, and it’s something we should all try to do.
Recently, a friend texted me needing someone to talk to after a hard day. I knew I could respond in one of two ways: I could either try to offer comfort over text, or I could take the time out of my day to meet up with my friend and actually be present like Job’s friends were. I chose to be present in my friend’s time of need, and I’m glad that I did. My friend felt better after we spent some time together, and I was glad to have helped my friend out. I’m not saying all that to pat myself on the back. I was only doing what a friend is supposed to do. But what I am saying is that choosing to be present with your loved ones when they’re hurting works, and it’s beneficial for you, too.
Being present is rewarding for everyone involved. It shows the person that’s hurting that they’re worth your time and attention. And it helps you connect with that person in a way that you normally wouldn’t be able to. So take some time today to be fully present with your loved ones. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Make an effort to just be there for a little while, and see what happens. I promise you won’t be disappointed.