When I Am Weak
Not in your own strength for it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you – energizing and creating in you the power and desire – both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.
— Philippians 2:13 Amplified
After our son Mark’s death, several friends stayed intimately involved in my grief journey. Grief broke me and I wasn’t easy to be around. Though I don’t remember a lot about those days, I do remember I said the same things over and over again – to the same few people. I don’t know how they tolerated my constant crying, dark thoughts, and what must have sounded like heretical questions about God. I am confident they kept coming back because they loved me. But I think they kept coming back, even when staying away was most likely preferable, because the Lord promised to give them the power and desire to step into the darkness with me. It wasn’t in their strength they listened to my cries or outrageous wails. I believe God delighted in their obedience every time they picked up the phone to call, knowing they were in for a long languishing monologue from me. They saw few reasons to believe any healing was taking place in my shattered heart. Yet they stayed with me for the long haul. I believe they brought pleasure to their Father, because they came in His strength.
When you know the Lord wants you to go into the darkness with a friend, again, and you know there is nothing new for you to say to comfort her, go in His strength. Ask the Lord to stir up a renewed love for your friend. Often your hurting friend doesn’t need or want words, she simply needs your tears and presence.
Years ago a good friend experienced the “death” of a high school relationship. Her long distance boyfriend ended what she thought was a forever love. Watching her grieve was the first time I had witnessed such pain. I was sixteen and had little hope that she would ever love again! In time she found a steady path and realized there is life after a break up. I asked her what helped her the most. She described how her mother cried with her and sat on her bed while she was curled up sobbing. Her mother said very little, but her tears and gentle presence spoke volumes. My seventeen-year-old friend told me she felt strength and comfort coming from her mother, even though she said few words. Her mother did not belittle her grief, but instead acknowledged her daughter’s broken heart and the “right” she had to grieve the loss of this boyfriend. Her mother later told my friend she frequently cried out to the Lord to show her the best way to help her daughter because she knew platitudes would not work.
Sometimes we make encouragement too complicated. Sometimes the most important gift we can give is to acknowledge the person’s pain and simply be there as a conduit of the love of Jesus. Ask Him to transform your heart with a desire to sit in the darkness and weep with the broken hearted, even a child or teenager, knowing there is a Light shining from His heart to yours.
Ask the Lord what friend or family member needs your biblical encouragement today. Perhaps it’s that difficult child you just sent to school with a sigh of relief! Is it time to meet her for lunch just because? Does your husband need an intimate touch, a reassurance that though times are tough right now, you’re in this together? Remember the Lord promises to give you His strength for those difficult moments.
Lord, we feel helpless in the face of broken people. Yet You promise that it is in Your strength we can go into the darkness. Lord, we pray right now and ask You encourage us with Your wisdom and strength and courage. Show us our encouragement is simply our presence and tears.