Job* took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes...When [Job's friends] saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. [Job 2:8, 12-13]I have some dear friends who are struggling with significant pain right now, mostly due to loss of a loved one. Some are faring better than others, but pain is pain and grief is grief.
In the book of Job, a man has everything taken from him. His livestock die, his land is ruined, his health is shattered, and his children are killed. His wife tells him to curse God and die, just to end all of the suffering. But instead, Job takes a potsherd (literally a shard of pottery), scrapes off the sores that have plagued him, and sits in the midst of the ashes. In his grief, he can do nothing but sit.
His friends come along shortly thereafter, and while they will prove to be unhelpful later on, in that moment when Job can do nothing but sit, they in turn sit with him. For seven days and for seven nights they sit. Not because they were good at sitting or only desired to sit, or even because they thought that's what God was telling them to do. They sat for they saw his suffering was very great.
I'm not a sitter by nature. I'm a talker or a sympathizer or a fixer. But I'm learning to be a sitter. I've been blessed in the past by those who sit, when my suffering was very great. To have someone join me in the heap of ashes and practice the ministry of presence has brought healing to my soul without a single word uttered. So now, when it is my turn to comfort a friend in need, I am reminded that it is not always in the loving words we say or the sage advice we offer, but in the being with the ones we love.
Learn to sit. Let others sit with you. And start to be healed by the knowledge that you are loved and cherished and worthy of the time spent just sitting.