As I was driving my motorbike home from aerobics one night, I had to stop abruptly for something in the middle of the road. As I stopped, I realized it was a bleeding dog. At the same time that I stopped, a crying woman was crossing the street. She picked up the dead or dying dog (only about 2 feet in front of me) and carried it into the house just on the left of the street. (Houses in Thailand are very close to the street.) I heard both her and another woman wailing. I don’t know if she hit the dog, or if she saw it happen, or what. I don’t know either of those women, but I pass by this place every day. What should I do? I was filled with indecision. Both women saw me. In the end, I decided to go home, where the scene was imprinted on my mind.
A day later, I was listening to a sermon, when God convicted me. Job 2:8-13.
Job’s friends get a bad rap, and rightly so. But there are a few things that they did right! What?! Susan, are you serious?! They did everything wrong and in the end were rebuked and Job had to pray for them. Yes, that is true, but there are still a few things they did right.
The first thing they did right: THEY CAME. They visited Job. They didn’t just come for a few minutes or a few hours, but for days and weeks. How often do we visit someone in distress, whether it’s physical or emotional, say a few platitudes, pray for them, commit to pray for them (and rarely ever do), end of story? For me, it’s much more often than I would like to admit. We think we HAVE to do something for them. But all we really need to do, is just be there, let them know that we are hurting with them. Let them know we care. Let them see God’s love in us by just being available. But that doesn’t always fit into our neat and ordered lives, does it?
The second thing that Job’s friends did right was they sat in silence. For how long? 7 days. Wow, that’s a long time! We have a hard time handling even 5 minutes of silence. They were willing to sit in silence and they listened. This, I think is one of the hardest things to do. To listen, to REALLY listen rather than trying to formulate a response in our heads while the other person is speaking. When we spend time listening, we earn the right to speak Christ into a hurting life.
Going back to the above story: Why didn’t I stop that evening? There are two reasons: The first is that it wasn’t on my agenda. I had planned to get home, take a shower and spend time doing coursework for my online classes. Stopping to comfort and help two hurting women wasn’t part of that plan. The second reason is that I thought I had to DO something, and I didn’t know what to do. Now I realize that I didn’t really have to DO anything, just be there. What kind of open doors for sharing the gospel in the future have I now missed because I didn’t stop? The interesting thing is that God used something that would get my attention. He used a dog, something that I can empathize with and a hurt that I understand.
Finally, I would like to encourage us all to just be present. What does that mean? That means to be present in the moment, to be willing to forgo our own agenda for God’s agenda. There are hurting people all around us. Will we let God use us?