This year has been crazy worldwide, so many losses around us. I have walked with many friends and my online family in these times when we cannot understand what is going on. I wouldn’t describe myself as a ‘good comforter’ I never know what to say; there is a time I went to see a sick friend in hospital and found myself crying. I prefer praying for people from a distance, but in this season, God has taught me the ministry of presence: No words.
In the book of Job, Job faces sudden tragedies. Despite him being blameless and upright, he goes through so much loss and pain. If I were to visit him, I would not know what to say, I would be like his friends in Job 2:13 “So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.” Their presence was comfort enough to Job. No words.
But one Eliphaz the Temanite came armed with some advice. (Job 4:7-11) He suggests that Job’s suffering was brought out by lack of devotion “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off?” He was pointing out that Job brought the suffering and pain on himself, that he was the problem. This is not comforting at all. He is known to be the worst comforter recorded in the Bible. Many suggest that he was better off with no words.
We are surrounded by people who are mourning, so many have lost loved ones this year. Others have lost homes, businesses, investments, jobs and even hope. They need comfort: God is calling on us to be vessels of comfort. We are not called to heal and fix people’s problems. We are not called to comfort the broken hearted and restore their souls. We are not called to go with clichés to show how well we understand their pain. No. Our work is to offer encouragement through God’s word. We can do that with no words.
You dont have to have the right words, many times you wont even needs words at all. All we need is to love and care for those in grief. When God sends crushed people your way, your role is to point them to the ultimate comforter. The one who heals broken hearts, the one whose understanding we cannot fathom, the one who gives perfect rest. May God help us to comfort those around us by directing them to Himself, even with no words.