I’ve thought a great deal about friendship since losing Dominic. I’ve been blessed by those who have chosen to walk with me and dismayed by some who have walked away.
It takes great courage to sit in silence with those who suffer. We must fight the urge to ward off their pain with chatter. Quiet companionship requires that we allow our hearts to suffer too.
For fifty years I was on the “other side”-the one where I looked on, sad and sometimes horror-stricken, at the pain and sorrow friends or family had to bear.
I wanted to help.
I wanted to say the “right thing”. I wanted to express how very much my heart hurt for them and that I badly wished I could carry some of their load.
Sometimes I think I did a pretty good job of reaching out and touching the wound and offering a little bit of comfort. But other times, I would say nothing because I didn’t know what to say.
Now I am the one bent under the burden of grief-my heart and body and soul laboring to carry the weight of burying a child. And there are those who are brave and reach out to me and offer words or hugs or prayers and their efforts give me strength and comfort.
Walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, these gestures are lights in the darkness, hope for my heavy heart and encouragement for a weary body.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
It’s tempting to avoid someone when their world is dark.
It’s uncomfortable to choose to enter their pain. But Jesus has called us to walk beside the suffering, to encourage the disheartened and to lift up the ones who stumble.
There are no magic words to erase heartache.
And isn’t that why Jesus came?
We are most like our Savior when we are willing to leave our place of comfort and venture into the threatening world of another’s pain and suffering.
“Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross”