“When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him…Waling loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.” Job 2:11a; 12b-13
We know from the rest of the story of Job that after Job’s comforters started talking they made his suffering even worse. But for the first seven days they got it right. They stopped whatever they were doing and traveled to be with their friend. The joined Job in his grief and expressed their deep sadness over his situation – wailing loudly.
Grief shared brings a measure of comfort. It means so much when we know we aren’t alone – when others hurt for us.
Job’s comforters showed sensitivity to his plight. They understood (at that point) that their words could not make the situation better and were wholly inadequate to express the depth of grief required.
Sometimes words aren’t enough.
Job’s friends gave him the gift of their presence. They were there just staying close – expressing great care just by being there.
Maybe Job would tell us something like this:
The person in grief doesn’t need to be fixed, to get their mind off the tragedy, to be told to get over it, to look at the bright side or any other cliche statements. That person needs time and space to process grief and the best comforters are those who allow them that and just stay by their side without shallow commentary.
The gift of presence – emotionally, physically and spiritually is what it means to “be there.”