A number of years ago, when I was a new human resource manager for a company, I attended the visitation and funeral of a long-time employee I had never met. The worker, a bricklayer, was loved by his co-workers, yet very few came to see his widow. I listened to someone trying to console her by saying that many people stay away because they are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing and making the family more miserable.
In times of distress, however, people rarely remember what we say. What they most remember is that we were there. Familiar faces offer strength beyond description; they provide comfort for the deep feelings of loneliness setting in from the loss. This “gift of presence” is one we’re all capable of offering, even if we’re tongue-tied or uncomfortable.
Martha and Mary were surrounded by friends and mourners who comforted them when their brother Lazarus died (John 11:19). Then the One they most longed to see—Jesus—came and wept with them (vv.33-35). The people responded, “See how He loved him!” (v.36).
In loss of any kind, Jesus always gives His comforting presence, and we have the ability to give deeply of His compassion simply by the gift of our presence.
The comfort you may need from me;
And may you know that I am there
To bind our souls as grief we share. —Kilgore