One of my points in my Job lesson was that we Christ-followers need to empathize better. We need to be at peace with the lack of peace. And with silence.
Job’s friends did a great job of supporting him for 7 days. Not a word was spoken among them. Then the 8th day came and everything fell apart. His friends were full of advice, full of the wisdom that comes with not having a clue what someone is going through but feeling like you need to say something.
“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” – The Desiderata
The peace there may be in silence.
I have very dear friends who lost a daughter a few years back. I remember hearing people tell them “God had a plan” and “read this book and it will help” and “sometimes we don’t understand until later” which may all be well and good. At some point. BUT IT’S NOT GOOD IN THE DARKEST MOMENTS OF THE MOST INTENSE PAIN!
God has a plan in their daughter dying? Please! Do enlighten us. God has a plan for a divorce? Please! Share this great understanding of yours. Read a book or listen to a sermon? Oh yes, that is exactly what I want to do when I feel like my insides are being ripped out of my body. We’ll understand later? Then SHUT UP because if I don’t know and you don’t know we don’t need to pretend we know we will understand later.
As I come through a divorce and share the pain, especially for my kids, people still say, “maybe it will help them down the road.” Yes, and just maybe they will become serial killers too. Don’t dampen my spirits and don’t give me false hope. No one knows what will happen so just be quiet.
Bart is one of my very best friends. When I am in pain, when I want the world to end, when 300 pounds of tears flow out of my 250 pound body, Bart has a pretty standard line. “I love you and I am here for you.” Bart knows my pain and he knows he doesn’t have any more insight into the future than I do. He doesn’t try to “help” or tell me someone else has it worse. He simply lets me know he is there. He doesn’t try to force his way in or figure it out. He simply hurts with me until I’m ready to talk, ready to seek advice, ready to find ways to nullify the pain. Bart will run through brick walls for me if I ask. AND, he will sit quietly with me.
I think Job wishes he would have had friends that would have been quiet awhile longer. Most of us don’t have some great wisdom that no one else has. Most of us don’t understand the pain someone else is going through, even when we have lived through similar situations because no situation has the same mix of characters, personalities and issues.
Christ-followers need to empathize with the hurting, with those who can’t see through the darkness, with those who want to curl up and die instead of facing the pain of this life, even when it’s temporary. Empathy doesn’t come from worldly wisdom, it comes with presence.
Be quiet. Be present.
Grace and peace.