“What am I supposed to do now?”
Her tears ran down her face hot and full of shame and I sat across from her shifting uncomfortably in my seat, palms sweating.
I loathed this question the most because it always seemed to come at times when I didn’t have the answers.
My dear friend had just confided in me something that she had been deeply struggling with, and I was having such a hard time figuring out what to say.
I smiled a half-smile, mouth going dry as I twiddled my thumbs and wished that the answer would magically materialize in front of my eyes.
What am I supposed to say?
Her tears continued to leak out onto her face and with each one, I became a little more panicked.
In that moment of having absolutely no idea how to respond, I did the only thing I knew to do and prayed. I asked the Lord to be my mouthpiece, and immediately my panic turned to peace.
The peace came when I realized that God wasn’t wanting me to be His mouthpiece in that moment, He was wanting me to be present.
Present to her suffering and present to His presence.
Have you ever found yourself in that kind of situation, friend?
That awkward and uncomfortable moment when a loved one or dear friend is grieving or struggling and you feel pressured to say something, anything, but nothing will come?
I’ve been there, dear one, many times.
In my adult years of trying to navigate friendships as a God-fearing woman who struggles to let her walls fall, I’ve learned to let silence linger.
So, in those times when a friend is walking through grief and the “right” words evade me, I’ve learned that they simply aren’t meant to be said.
I’ve learned to let silence sit at my table like an old friend because silence usually has a funny way of allowing the Holy Spirit to intervene.
God calls us as His church to be comforters, to be ushers of His presence and glory. Sometimes, that means allowing our words to remain unfound while we reach for more of Him and give the gift of our presence to our friends who are suffering.
I think we love those around us best of all when we show up as our honest selves, absent words and all, and simply give the gift of being present in the presence of whatever they are facing.
Isn’t this how God loves us?
I believe we find our answer to that question in 1 Corinthians 1:3-4 (TPT).
All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For He is the Father of tender mercy and the God of endless comfort. He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us.
I love that verse; He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial.
The way God loves us when we walk through suffering gives great insight into how we are to show love to others who are grieving and struggling. He calls us to simply come alongside them, to be with them, just as the comfort of His presence is always with us.
I remember reaching for my friend’s hand once I felt the Lord lift the burden of words from my shoulders.
At that moment, my question of what do I say? turned to, Lord, what does she need from me?
And I will always remember the deep intimacy of Christ dwelling in that space of sorrow as I made room for His presence to minister to her heart as I surrendered my need to speak and instead, offered the gift of my present presence.
Connect with Celia:
Celia is a wife, writer and avid lover, and pursuer of Jesus. She and her husband reside in Indianapolis, Indiana with their two very cute, but very ornery, fur babies. She works full time in the health insurance industry but her true passion lies in sharing the heart of Jesus with others through her writing. Celia writes to remind you that you are fiercely beloved and fervently pursued by the One who created you. You can find her over on her blog at celiaamiller.com or go hang out with her on Instagram at @celiaamiller.
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