Sometime back, my wife told me about an experience she had when her friend fell into some hard -emotionally draining- times. It was clear that her friend had made some terrible decisions which were weighing down on her. My wife had nothing to do or say to her friend but simply to visit and be at her friend’s side. No conversation took place she told me but simply presence. Hers was a ministry of presence.
In the book of Job 11, we read about the way in which Job’s three friends went to sit by his side and watched as he suffered from his emotional and physical wounds. There was clearly nothing they could do. They could not fly him to see any doctor or do anything. In verse 13, the Scripture says that they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was great. Recent events in my life have made me reflect on this ministry of presence a bit more.
There have been numerous occasions where friends and family simply need us to be there. It might be due to a lost job opportunity, a public disgrace, a bereavement, a rejection from a lover, a not so good medical diagnosis, name it. In most of these cases, our money and advice or a reminder of I-told-you-so is inappropriate. We just need to be there. To be physically present and to assure our person that they are not alone.