Quiet Care May 23 by Philip Yancey
All the passages below are taken from Philip Yancey’s book “Grace Notes—Daily Readings with a Fellow Pilgrim,” published in 2009.
How do I help someone else in need? Specifically, what can I do to alleviate their fear? I have learned that simple availability is the most powerful force we can contribute to help calm the fears of others.
We rightly disparage Job’s three friends for their insensitive response to his suffering. But read the account again: when they came, they sat in silence beside Job for seven days and seven nights before opening their mouths. As it turned out, those were the most eloquent moments they spent with him.
Instinctively, I shrink back from people who are in pain. Who can know whether they want to talk about their predicament or not? Do they want to be consoled, or cheered up? What good can my presence possibly do? My mind spins out these rationalizations and as a result I end up doing the worst thing possible: I stay away.
Tony Campolo tells the story of going to a funeral home to pay his respects to the family of an acquaintance. By mistake he ended up in the wrong parlor. It held the body of an elderly man, and his widow was the only mourner present. She seemed so lonely that Campolo decided to stay for the funeral. He even drove with her to the cemetery.
At the end of the grave-side service, as he and the woman were driving away, Campolo finally confessed that he had not known her husband. “I thought as much,” said the widow. “I didn’t recognize you. But it doesn’t really matter.” She squeezed his arm so hard it hurt. “You’ll never, ever, know what this means to me.”
No one offers the name of a philosopher when I ask the question, “Who helped you most?” Most often they answer by describing a quiet, unassuming person. Someone who was there whenever needed, who listened more than talked, who didn’t keep glancing down at a watch, who hugged and touched, and cried. In short, someone who was available, and came on the sufferer’s terms and not their own.
Where Is God When It Hurts? (176-77)