Can silence be comforting?
I can recount multiple times in my life that I have faced hardships that caused me to wonder where God was in my suffering? I prayed, I read my Bible, I meditated; But, all I could hear was silence. While I am not sure if God chose to be silent in those instances, or whether my grief rendered me spiritually deaf, either way I was overcome with pain and helplessness.
There is much we can learn from the suffering Job encountered when he faced calamity in his life. Initially, Job heard nothing from God either. Fortunately, three of his good friends (Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite) came to comfort him in his time of need.
Job 2: 12-13:
12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
What’s striking about this passage is that his friends remained silent for entire first week because they could sense the depth of his pain. They didn’t offer empty platitudes such as, “God is preparing you for something greater” or “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Nor did they over identify. “I know exactly what you are going through”.
I believe that one of the best things we can do to care for someone in deep distress is to offer a non-judgmental presence. A willingness to show up and BE present can be more valuable for the afflicted than hearing clumsy assumptions and anxious projections. Job’s friends were doing great until they opened their mouths. They should have remained silent.
What do you think?