Scripture: Job 2:11-13 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
Devotional: Imagine this scene: Job’s friends hear about his calamity and set out to offer comfort. We can quickly see the devastating effect Job’s afflictions had upon him, because his appearance was such that they barely recognized him. And they literally could not speak a word. All they did was simply sit with him for seven days. Seven days! Can you imagine sitting in silence for that long to comfort your suffering friend?
Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” That’s what these friends were doing. And that is what we are called to do as well. This kind of comfort is called the ministry of presence. Simply put, you are with someone in the midst of their pain, just as Job’s friends were.
If you’ve ever suffered greatly, and been the recipient of the ministry of presence, you know how powerful it is. Even if someone just stops by briefly to be with you, there is such a great level of comfort given that cannot be explained.
If you have never suffered greatly and been the recipient of this, you may feel you don’t know what to say or do when someone is suffering through trials or pains. Let this be an encouragement for you to simply offer your presence.
Audrey Assad says, “When we avoid our own suffering or the suffering of others, we are actually avoiding Christ.” When we learn to embrace suffering, either our own, or of that of another, we draw nearer to Christ. Philippians 3:10 says: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participate in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…”
There is something so liberating about understanding suffering and it’s ability to draw us nearer to our Lord, whether it is our own or that of others. Will you allow that kind of intimacy with God a place in your life?
- Reflect upon concept of the ministry of presence. Is there someone you know who is suffering right now that could benefit from your presence? If so, take action to spend some quiet time with them.