I have been confronted with grief recently. This time it was not my own. I had the honor to be part of the intimate journey of someone going through immense emotional pain. I say “honor” because it is not everyday that someone lets you in to the deepest struggles. I say “honor” because it is also learning territory for me. It is easy to read books and even learn to give “advice” to others but it is not easy to really come alongside and “weep with those who weep,” as the Bible says in Romans 12:15. In 1 Samuel 30:4 David and his men wept until they could weep no more when their wives and children had been taken captive.
Grief comes in waves, sometimes at unwanted times, sometimes something very simple provokes. Sometimes a friend can communicate in a very lucid, practical way, knowing what to do, then in the next breath, break up in sobs and become totally incoherent leaving you wondering what on earth you can say. Don’t say anything…pray…lift your friend up to Jesus. You cannot solve the problem but you can be there and be a friend. If you do say something dumb, out of a desire to really reach out, just apologize and move on. Your friend needs you. She needs Jesus more. You may even see where your friend needs to be, or you may even see some serious flawed thinking; don’t tell her everything at once. Your friend, if she/he is truly walking with God will be open soon. Wait. God will most likely reveal what He desires her to know into her soul and you will then be in the place of simply gently confirming. Also, don’t expect your friend to be able to take an interest in your life, her life is all-consuming at the moment. Surrender your life and issues to God and just “be there.” As consolation and healing takes place she will begin to reach out to you.
It is easy to say “count it all joy” but far less easy to walk it. Patience and compassion is needed for those walking alongside. It is the hardest thing, at least in my experience, to stand by for a season and choose to simply be quiet, listen and wait.