I long for companionship when I am in pain.
I want someone to talk to me, weep with me, and sit with me. I want someone to put human flesh on God’s comfort. I need community.
This need always felt vaguely unspiritual. Until I saw that in Jesus’ darkest moments, he desired His friends’ presence.
Mark 14:32-34 says, “They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Clearly, this longing did not reflect a lack of trust in God or a fragile faith. It was simply human. God incarnate longed for human fellowship because God created us to live in community.
Sitting with our friends in their pain is a treasured gift. They rarely are looking for answers to their most profound questions or solutions to their pressing problems. Instead, they just want our presence.
Yet often it’s easier to tell stories, offer advice, recite a Bible verse, or even deliver a mini-sermon on optimism. We want them to feel instant relief, so we try to force their healing, fix their problems, or alleviate their doubts.
I’ll never forget a friend who stopped by after my son Paul died. She sat in the kitchen without making much conversation. Instead, she listened when I spoke about my pain. Since I didn’t want to be alone, her silent presence comforted me as I processed my grief.
So if your friend is suffering, try visiting them with no agenda but to be with them. Pray silently as you sit.
Trust that God is working and may bring about more healing and comfort as you “stay and keep watch” than your words ever could.