“I wouldn’t know what to say.” That’s one of the reasons people give for not visiting a friend who has lost a loved one. The truth is that few of us do know what to say. In many situations, nothing can really be said. In Job’s case, his losses are so overwhelming that any words would be inadequate. Still, we often function under some illusion that what those in grief want from us are words. Without having any to offer, many of us disconnect from the grieving.
A friend once confessed to me that he doesn’t remember anything people told him in the days and weeks after his daughter’s death. What he did remember was the presence offered by friends—the visits, the dinners dropped off at the house, the people who remembered his daughter’s birthday. One person occasionally stopped by his office and asked to hear a story about his daughter. What he remembered during his time of grief was the love embodied by the presence of his friends.
Job feels alone in his grief and in his anger. No one understands him. No one gives him space to be angry. They want him to grieve the right way and don’t approve of the way he is doing it. Job is isolated from everyone and he blames God for [closing] their minds to understanding (v. 4).
Job’s visitors thought he needed advice and instruction. He would have been better off if they continued to just sit with him and never opened their mouths. What he needed were people to simply be with him in his grief rather than judge his anger at God. Job needed people who would let him vent and cry and yell. Who needs that from you today?
Are you uncomfortable around people who are grieving or suffering? Why? What needs to heal in you so that you can comfort those in sorrow?
Jesus the Christ, forgive us when we abandon those who are suffering because of our own discomfort. Empower us today to become your loving presence for someone who is hurting. Amen.