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Food for Thought - Musings

With Another

We are no strangers to pain, sorrow and anguish. Jesus, never one to hide the truth, reminds us that in the world there will be tribulation. So when loss touches those we love, when the consequences of living in a fractured world smacks them, knocking them off their feet, and they begin to flounder, struggle, question, get angry, sink into darkness – what are we to do?

All too often the response of Christians is to rush into a place where angels would fear to tread – the scared place of suffering. They come armed with Bible verses, precious promises, spewing these supposed words of encouragement and comfort that bring no comfort but often cause more pain, further anguish and even end up pointing the person away from God.

So what are we to do? Paul, building on the example of Jesus, puts it quite simply: “weep with those who weep”, for when at the tomb of his dear friend, Lazarus, Jesus stops and weeps. Jesus, knowing that in a matter of moments his friend would live again, weeps. When we are granted the sacred privilege to be invited into the suffering of another we are there to be with, suffering with, be present to the person. It is this presence, not our words, that is needed – a presence that creates the space and safety for the person to be open, honest, communicative, silent, angry, sorrowful, in short to be real and unedited in the moment.

Remember the words of Paul, the example of Jesus.

I leave you with the words below I penned many years ago as I came face to face with overwhelming loss and grief - a time when I could feel myself sinking beneath the waves of despair. It was these words of Jesus and the Jesus lived out in the presence of those who loved me that help me during that time, that help me in the now of my life.


He is in heaven

He is happy

He is with Jesus

All things work together for good…

Like spit on a hot grill

are traditional words of comfort

they dance on the surface

soon to evaporate into nothingness


like water poured out on to a dry sponge

two words penetrate

my heart

my soul

my spirit

"Jesus wept"

Jesus grieves with me

Jesus embraces me and my sorrow

Jesus doesn't rush to the truth of the resurrection

Jesus sits with me

feels with me

hurts with me

weeps with me

Jesus weeps

an invitation to tarry in my grief

an invitation to embrace my






Jesus weeps

he cares

he is with me

he knows my pain

he knows me

Jesus weeps and so do I


This is a ministry of b. b is a nonprofit ministry that exists to assist pastors, church staffs, seminarians, professors and missionaries by offering contemplative retreats, spiritual direction, staff development and spiritual formation opportunities.

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