By Rich Edison | January 10, 2020
Earlier this week I found myself standing by the bedside of a dear friend’s husband as she and her children said their final goodbyes. Recently diagnosed with a serious illness, his condition had rapidly deteriorated and he was not expected to make it through the night.
As I stood there, watching this good woman comfort her children, I was blown away by her faith and courage. Facing this terrible tragedy, she was still able to praise God for his goodness and encourage her kids with the hope of the resurrection.
I, on the other hand, felt totally inadequate. I’d been asked to come be with them in their hour of need and I didn’t have a clue what to do. What do you say at a moment like that? What can you do? My feeble words of comfort seemed so pointless in the face of such loss and I ended up just shutting my mouth and standing off to the side to give them space to grieve.
In retrospect that was probably the best thing I could do. There are times when words cannot help and anything you try to do will only make matters worse. In those moments, the most important thing is to just be there for them. No words, no actions, just you, loving them the best you can.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “comfort each other…”. Sometimes the best way to do this is just show up. Just having someone there, knowing someone cares, is all a person may need to get them through whatever trial they’re facing. Just being there, holding them up, giving them a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, a gentle hug, can make all the difference in the world.
As Jesus faced His own hour of trial, the one thing he longed for was someone to be there for him. In Gethsemane, he said to Peter, James, and John, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Matthew 26:38. Unfortunately, they couldn’t stay awake, leaving Jesus to face that long dark night alone.
I pray we never make the same mistake. All around us are people facing their own dark nights of trial. They don’t need our well-meaning words or our clumsy attempts to help. What they need is for us to just show up, to hold their hand, to give them a hug, to show we care. In other words, they just need us to be there, to stay with them and keep watch, holding them through their long, dark night.
This Sabbath someone needs what only you can give – yourself. Will you show up? Will you be there for them today?
Rich Edison is a writer, speaker, and Physician Assistant, who, whether he is working with patients, speaking in public, or writing for his blog, EncouragingWordsforToday.com, strives to daily bring a little hope, inspire positive change, and point people to Jesus.