The possible favorite time to read on my Kindle™ is when I am waiting in line. Early this afternoon I was sitting (at least not standing) in line and took out my handy reading device. Because this handy gadget also marks the last place I read, the marked spot feel open to page 181 in Philip Yancey’s book, Where is God When it Hurts?” This book is well-researched and has so many illustrations that it has become a very slow, deliberate read for me. In fact, I have been reading the book on and off for about a year now. One hundred pages remain and now that I am on the homestretch, I am going to finish it. There are so many places to just stop and ponder that I keep stopping until I feel I should move on. Here is one of those places.

Yancey points out how important it is for people to just “be there” for others. Not to say the scholarly thing, the spiritual thing, or even anything, but to just be present. It reminded me of my good friend, Katie. When my mother was in her dying hours, Katie came and just sat with me. It was enough. Yancy states, “. . . no one offers the name of a philosopher when I ask the question, ‘Who helped you the most?’ Most often they answer by describing a quiet, unassuming person . . . someone who listened more than talked.”

I have no idea what my friend planned to do the day my daughter called and told Katie my mom was near death. Whatever it was, it waited. In fact, it waited for two days while Katie continued to minister to my family, not by talking. No, she cooked for us, cleaned up the kitchen, and cooked again. She was quietly there. Available. Quiet. Unassuming.

As much as Job’s “friends” are criticized for their undiscerning remarks to Job, those first seven days they only sat with Job. They didn’t talk. They were just there. They were available. For that, I commend them.

Who needs you to be quiet, available, just for right now? If you know of that situation, then I urge you to do your part. Do it graciously, quietly, and without any expectations.

All of those thoughts left me a little misty eyed while I was waiting for my name to be called and those thoughts linger still into the late afternoon. Thank you to Mr. Yancy for those words on page 181 and thank you, Katie, for your quiet presence that day now nearly five years ago.



  1. Glenda

    I have met your friend Katie, and she is a delightful lady! She has had many of her own struggles, and I’m sure she has gained much wisdom from those, during which I’m sure that YOU were a great friend to her! You are both blessed! 🙂

  2. Karyl, often that’s the biggest part of counseling; just listening, being there, not saying a whole lot. Today I saw a widow I’ve been working with for about 3 years now. Her grief was terrible, and she thought she was going crazy when this journey started. Today, she came in beaming, telling me about a social life that has developed over the last few months, and assured me how right I had been when I told her the hardest grieving would take 2-3 years to get through. I didn’t talk a lot all these months, but I sure listened and cried with her and offered her lots of tissues :)There have been people in my life who have just come alongside and held my hand. Sometimes that’s all you need.

    • Thank you for the input, Linda. Your sister posted a situation on my fb page related to this post that was heartwarming. It seems to me in the thoughtless culture we have somehow created in America that the lack of compassion and understanding are at drought level. Yet, just when I need someone to come alongside and offer just the presence of quietness, God meets my need by sending someone–like Katie.

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