Often, the best comfort is just being there
We rightly disparage Job's three friends for their insensitive response to his suffering. Yet when they came, they sat in silence beside Job for 7 days before speaking. As it turned out, those were the most eloquent moments they spent with him.
Instinctively, I shrink back from people who are in pain. Who can know whether they want to talk about their predicament or not? Do they want to be consoled, or cheered up? What good can my presence possibly do?
Tony Campolo tells of going to a funeral. By mistake he ended up in the wrong parlor. It held the body of an elderly man, and his widow was the only mourner present. She seemed so lonely that Campolo decided to stay for the funeral. He even drove with her to the cemetery.
At the conclusion of the graveside service, Campolo finally confessed that he had not known her husband. "I thought as much," said the widow. "But it doesn't really matter. You'll never, ever, know what this means to me."
Most often those who suffer remember the quiet, unassuming person. Someone who was there when needed, who listened, who didn't keep glancing at a watch, who hugged, touched, and cried. In short, someone who was available and came on the sufferer's terms, not their own. — Philip Yancey
In our shattered times, anguish relents
Not at mere idle words spoken in vain,
But rather from the silent eloquence
Bestowed by those rare souls who share our pain. —Evans
Often, the best comfort is just being there.