When someone we know is suffering, we may not quite “get” why it hurts so much or understand what they are experiencing. We may be tempted to make comparisons such as “Well, look at that person – they have it much worse than you. You shouldn’t feel so bad!”
I have learned over the years this truth: any pain is all-consuming. It doesn’t matter whether I just hit my thumb with a hammer, or just had my leg amputated. When I’m in pain, it takes all my attention, and it really, really hurts. And when I’m hurting, I feel terribly alone.
So let’s not pass judgment on another person’s pain. Instead, let’s be the shoulder to cry on. Let’s be the strong arm that encircles the sufferer with strength. Let’s be the hand that lifts them up. Let’s be the friend who walks beside them.
And when their loneliness is at its worst, when the pain goes to the deepest depths, recognize that there is a place you cannot go, even though you yearn to offer comfort. Just be there for them, and pray. Be assured that the One who cried from the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” will go where you cannot. He, and only he, is Jehovah Shammah: the God who is Present.