It was a profound pastoral moment. The uncertainty and difficulty of Jen’s medical situation had reached its peak in my heart. I was so overwhelmed, so confused, and so afraid. And I was sharing it all with Jeff over a cup of coffee. After listening for a long time, he leaned back in his chair and shook his head helplessly. Then he looked me in the eye, his voice cracking with empathy, and he just said, “Wow, Dave.”
He didn’t have any answers. But I didn’t need answers. I needed Christ. I needed to encounter Christ. And Christ met me, through the presence of a friend who knows Him and who loves me. And God ministered to me greatly. When people are hurting, sometimes the best thing we can do is to just be quiet and be present.
Job’s friends started out well. When they heard about his suffering, they came to him. They grieved with him. And without words, they loved him by just being with him for seven days. The problems began when they opened their mouths and started talking. Because their words didn’t alleviate Job’s suffering. They actually added to it. A suffering man needed the comfort of godly friends. Instead, they engaged him in thirty-four chapters of unhelpful theological dialogue.
Job said, “A man in despair needs steadfast love from his friends. You are sorry comforters, because there is no limit to your windy words. I wish you would just shut up! Now that would be real wisdom” (Job 6:14, 13:5, 16:2-3). We need to hear that. Because we love to fix things. We love to find cures. We love to come up with solutions. We love to have answers. But when we think about ministry, we need to remember that people are not projects to be undertaken, diseases to be healed, issues to resolve, or codes to be deciphered. They are hearts that need to encounter the Person of Jesus Christ. And if we’re going to effectively lead people to Him in the midst of this broken world, then we don’t need better answers…we need to become better friends.
We all desperately need to hear the truth. But when people are hurting, sometimes the best thing we can do is to be quiet and be present, intentionally and compassionately, so that through us people can find true comfort and hope in the presence of Christ.
- Dave Carroll