One of the most difficult things in life is to observe the grief of someone you care for—and discipline yourself to do nothing. Every impulse of love electrifies us into action, because we’re afraid inaction will be confused with uncaring. I’m not suggesting that doing nothing is a virtue in most cases. I do assert that resisting giving easy answers and waiting for God's Spirit to allow your heart to be broken is truly comforting in the life of the grieving.
I have a great many friends who, in my hour of loss, moved to action. I deeply appreciate the practical love expressed to me and my children. But I’ve also come to appreciate the most thoughtful ones who acted not out of impulse but in deliberate caring. The word care has it's root in the Gothic word "kara" which means "lament." To care is first and foremost a word which means to grieve with, express sorrow and cry. To care is to come alongside the grieving and do little more than weep with those who weep.
What appears to be doing nothing is, in fact, one of the deepest acts of love a human can express. Jesus modeled this for us with Mary and Martha at the loss of their brother Lazarus. Yes, the grieving need practical ministry, but they also need stronghearted people who can just weep with them without giving in to the temptation to offer answers for that which the soul cannot grasp. Job's friends did well for the first week or so of Job's prolonged and confusing suffering. Then they all three gave in to their darkest nature and began to argue with this hurting man—proving their own arrogance.
The reason we offer answers to the unanswerable questions of suffering sometimes comes from our own need to be in control. When we bring "care" to our hurting friends like professionals and not broken-hearted friends, it places us in a powerful position over them. We seek to cure them, when, if we’re honest, we don’t posses the cure. This is why, for the grieving, the "comfort" so many bring instead offends and often curses.
I admit it’s a dangerous thing to get near the brokenhearted and the crushed. I find great comfort that the Lord is not afraid to draw near. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” It’s in drawing near and weeping that we bring an inexpressible comfort which the grieving learn to appreciate later and never forget. Don’t be afraid to be silent in the face of a friend's loss. Life can be inexpressibly hard, and there are tragic events that take your breath away and leave you speechless. Be careful and be willing to offer nothing but yourself, your tears and your willingness to let your heart be broken with your friend. You will find the undying gratitude of the grieving and yourself becoming more like Christ.