Just Being There
“I have heard many things like these; you are miserable comforters, all of you! Job 16:2 (NIV)
Picture this: the phone rings, and the moment you say “hello,” you hear the person on the other end of the phone crying, and you realize their heart is breaking. I have received this type of call many times, and immediately my heart begins to beat faster. Before I say a word, I begin to pray silently, “Oh, God, please no!” You may be able to relate either because you were the person receiving the call or because you were the person with the broken heart making the call.
Life can change for all of us within minutes of a phone call. Just recently, my twelve-year old granddaughter Kensie had her thyroid removed. She was on the road to recovery and doing well until her calcium level plunged. Within minutes, we were in the emergency room, and she was fighting for her life. She was in terrible pain, and there was nothing I could do. She was asking me to make the pain go away, but I couldn’t do anything to help. Oh, how I prayed for God to do something. I cried and prayed and asked God not to take my granddaughter.
If you have ever been a similar situation, you know there are things we can’t control or change. Perhaps you have been faced with the reality that if God does not come through for you, your situation is hopeless.
The Bible tells us that Job was very wealthy and blessed beyond measure. On one dreadful day, Job’s life falls apart in a matter of minutes when he is informed that everything he owned had been destroyed. As he is grieving the loss of all his material possessions, he receives a message informing him that all of his children have been in an accident and are dead. The news of Job’s devastation spread, and before he could even make a call, Job’s friends came to support him. They loved their friend, and their desire was to find out why these tragedies were happening. And, of course, they wanted to help Job get out of this horrible situation. But there was a problem: they couldn’t help Job! God was up to something, and the circumstances in Job’s life were totally outside the influence of any human intervention.
When my granddaughter was fighting for her life, I didn’t need my friends to share Godly principles with me to help deal with the situation. I needed their love and their prayers. I thank Jesus that my granddaughter survived that painful, life-threatening situation and that she is doing well today. But, I learned a huge lesson. When people are hurting, they need love and prayers, not a sermon. I was so thankful my daughter asked me to go to the hospital with her that day. She still says, “Mom, I am so thankful you were there!” Not because I could change anything, but because I could support, love and pray for God’s strength and power in the situation. You may be curious about how I was praying. Was I praying for God to heal my sweet granddaughter, or was I praying for God’s will to be done? I was absolutely praying for God to heal her! I called everyone I knew to pray for healing. Within an hour, we had friends in the waiting room supporting us through their prayers and their presence. Again, not one of our friends could have changed the situation. But knowing they had taken time out of their busy lives to come to the hospital to support us will forever fill our hearts with overwhelming gratitude.
I admit that I am the first one to quickly open my mouth and share a sermon when someone I know is hurting. I try to find a Godly principle to explain why they are going through their difficult situation. But one of the greatest things God taught me through my granddaughter’s illness is that when someone is hurting, they need love, not a sermon.
Job’s friends had no clue what God was doing in the life of their friend. They searched for a biblical reason that God would allow Job to go through so much heartache. But what they really needed to do was continue what they had done when they first came to support Job. When they initially came, they sat with Job for seven days without saying a word! And when they eventually started talking, they didn’t know what they were talking about. There was no possible way for Job’s friends to know that the trouble Job faced was between Job, God and Satan. In the end, God disciplined Job’s friends for trying to understand and explain what He was doing. This is a great lesson for all of us. When our friends are going through disappointment, heartache, and tragedy, there is really no way we can understand what God is up to in their lives.
So, how can we help our friends? Learn from my experience: when a person is hurting, they need love and prayers, not a sermon!
Further Reading Job, Ezekiel 14:14 & 20, James 5:11
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