October 1, 2008
by Charles R. Swindoll
Friends care enough to come without being asked to come. No one sent a message saying to Eliphaz and Bildad and Zophar, "Would you please come and bring a little sympathy and comfort for Job? The man is dying in this crucible of anguish and pain." That wasn't necessary, because real friends show up when someone they love is really hurting. Friends don't need an official invitation. Spontaneously, they come.
Friends respond with sympathy and comfort. Sympathy includes identifying with the sufferer. Friends do that. They enter into his or her crucible, for the purpose of feeling the anguish and being personally touched by the pain. Comfort is attempting to ease the pain by helping to make the sorrow lighter. You run errands for them. You take care of the kids. You provide a meal. You assist wherever you can assist because you want to comfort them.
Friends openly express the depth of their feelings. They have ways of doing that, don't they? It's not uncommon to see a friend standing nearby in the hospital room fighting back the tears. It's not unusual for the friend to express deep feelings. Casual acquaintances don't usually do that; genuine friends make their feelings known.
Friends aren't turned off by distasteful sights. On the contrary, they come alongside and they get as close as possible. Friends are not offended because the room has a foul smell. Friends don't turn away because the one they've come to be with has been reduced to the shell of his former self, weighing half of what he used to weigh.
Friends see beyond all of that. They don't walk away because the bottom has dropped out of your life and you're at wits' end. On the contrary, that draws them in. These men literally tore their robes, sprinkled dust on their heads, and raised their voices and sobbed as they sat down on the ground with Job. They demonstrated the depth of their anguish by staying seven days and seven nights without uttering a word.
Friends understand, so they say very little. Words are not always what they need. What they need is you.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.