“ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Remember a story of Job? How his friends were trying to console him using all the wrong words? Job 13:5 “ If you only would be altogether silent!” Have you ever experienced pain of the harsh words of a well-meaning friend who actually wanted to make you feel better? When you are trying to console a grieving or hurting friend, do you know what to say? When I was going through a very hard year of panic attacks and anxiety, some of my truly caring friends and family members advised me on a few occasions to “snap out of it” without realizing how impossible it was for me. I went through months of isolation from my friends and church because I was hurting inside so badly. I felt misunderstood and very lonely.
I realized something the other day: When you are facing a friend in distress you only need to say: “ I love you and I am here for you. I am so sorry…” Unless you yourself had experienced exactly what the other person is going through it is hard to find the right words. And how do you know that you know exactly how the other person feels even if they are going through similar circumstances? Sometimes when we know that someone else stood in a very similar place and emerged on the other side, it can encourage us and give us hope. Where is that fine line between being helpful and harsh? Ask questions and listen. Ask God for wisdom to give you the right words and attitude.Sometimes it is wise to close your mouth but open your ears and your heart.