Imagine that a friend of yours is battling depression. She is in a tough place. She doesn’t respond much to your messages or invitations to get together. Even when you do get together for coffee or a movie, she just stares into space and doesn’t really seem to know you’re there. You walk away wondering if you should just leave her alone or keep trying.
I get it. Showing up and not even talking to your friend can feel like you’re not making a difference at all. But let me assure you that you are. And today I want to talk to you about the power of showing up.
What is the Ministry of Presence?
This idea of showing up for those who are hurting is known as the ministry of presence. An article on the Ligonier Ministries website says, “This ministry of presence means that we will serve people even when it might make us uncomfortable. We will stand with people in the midst of anxiety and fear.”
Walking into the hospital room where there’s a bunch of wires and beeps can certainly be unnerving. Especially if someone you care deeply about is attached to them.
Entering your friend’s house after they just lost their child… unfathomable. What could you possibly say to begin to heal their hurt?
The fear of being in an uncomfortable situation keeps us isolated from the hurts of others. The reality is that for many deep hurts there are no magic words. What men and women need most is to know that there are others in their lives who are not afraid to walk the valleys with them. Sometimes admittedly we walk fearfully, longing for “right words.” But, sometimes silence and the presence of another who cares is the greatest comfort we can provide. Words are often forgotten, but the memories of caring faces are not.Sonny Guild, “The Ministry of Presence”
As Christians, we commit to showing up even when it’s hard and uncomfortable. Because God is there for us, and we want to be there for others.
What Happens When No One Shows Up
Consider this for a moment. Let’s say we decide we’re not brave enough or strong enough or “put together” enough to walk into the hospital room or our friend’s house.
What if everyone else decides the same thing?
What if we leave it all to the “professionals”?
What would that be like?
I imagine it would be quite disheartening. Devastating, even. Grief piled upon grief. How do you even begin to heal without others there with you?
I don’t want you to underestimate the power of showing up.
Two Ways to Show Up
When I think about the ministry of presence, it looks a couple of different ways. In the first way, our friend knows we are there. We go to the hospital room or her house or the funeral service, even though it’s uncomfortable.
Sometimes we show up and just sit. We cry with her. We sit in the silence, in the questions, in the grief, until she is ready to talk.
In the second way, she doesn’t necessarily realize that we’re there. She might see us dropping off a meal or cleaning her kitchen or sending a note. We’re working behind-the-scenes to make things a bit easier for her. But, friends, she often sees us. And seeing us there lets her know she is not alone.
If and when the time is right, weeks or months later, she will pull us in for a hug and whisper her thanks for being there and helping out.
Or maybe not. She might be so dazed that she has no clue what is going on.
That’s okay. Keep showing up.
Be the One Who Shows Up
If I had my guess, most people won’t show up when a friend is hurting. They’ll feel too afraid. Too uncomfortable. They’ll feel like they are intruding. (I know, because I’ve been that person far too many times.)
But you’re here because God has stirred within you a desire to care for those who are hurting, who are caught up in the tornado of grief and heartache.
Chances are, you’ve been the grieving one before. You know what it’s like. And you wouldn’t wish for anyone to go through something like that alone.
The people most eager to show up for someone else often know what needing help feels like.David Staal, Show Up
Who needs you to show up for them?
Is there anything standing in the way? Take it to God and ask Him to help you. And then ask Him to use you to bring His comfort to those who are broken-hearted.