The power of silence…

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Job 2: 11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home…12 When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud…13 They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

Having finished the book of Esther we now enter into the book of Job. This is a hard book to read because it’s so painful. We’re told Job is a righteous man who is put to an extreme test of his faithfulness to God. The first part of the story tells of Job’s great wealth and blessing as a result of his faithfulness to God. Satan challenges God to allow Job’s blessings to be taken from him – expecting Job will turn from God once this happens. God agrees.

So, in a manner that is almost uncomprehensible, Job loses everything. EVERYTHING. He loses his family, his home, his possessions, even his own health. Our passage picks up the story as Job’s three friends go to visit him in his suffering. Amid this incredible story, the part that catches my attention this morning is the last verse:

13 They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

Part of my training as a seminarian, preparing to ultimately serve as a Lutheran pastor, was working as a chaplain at a city hospital in downtown San Antonio, Texas. There were many times when I would be called in to visit with families who were in the middle of tragic events – accidents, heart attacks, gun shots wounds, complications in birth, drug overdoses, you name it.

As an extravert, my tendency is to want to say something, particularly under stress. I am also a feeler, so I would have great empathy for people in such terrible circumstances and want to say something helpful. What did I learn?

Sometimes words are just not helpful or necessary.

There are times when the best course of action when among persons in great pain is simply to be present, but silent. When words fail, there is something comforting about having someone else in the room. It’s more about being a spiritual/emotional support,than a verbal one. Yes fellow extraverts, there is such a thing. You introverts know exactly what I’m talking about.

I wonder, is there someone in your life right now who is in pain? Wondering how to support them? Perhaps this passage and reflection may give you an idea of how to love this person(s) in a way they can receive it.

Lord Jesus, have mercy on us. Give us grace to support those in distress and need. Sometimes without words. Amen.

One thought on “The power of silence…

  1. It may be considered a given, but I think it is worth noting that they showed up. There was nothing they could do and nothing they could even say, but they still showed up and stayed with him for seven days. My prayer is for the courage to show-up.

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