We are coming the end of our summer camps in Sweden. Each year we strive to help families, teenagers and young people discover the beauty and richness of knowing God.
This year we have put special emphasis on the family. Families are encouraged to come to our camps just as they are, but we want them to leave our camp not only enriched as a family but more importantly with a longing to get to know God on a personal level. Not an easy task to achieve in just one week. But we are dedicated in providing meaningful activities that provide a healthy balance between fellowship and spirituality.
Over the last few years we have seen more and more families coming to our summer camps that are not regular church goers, not necessarily to engage with the word of God but instead just to find the necessary rest and support to cope with the stress and challenges associated with being a parent today. In a sense they are looking for a listening ear and tools to cope.
This reminds me of a story recorded in the Gospel of Matthew just before Jesus was arrested and marched off to the cross. The Bible records that Jesus was under a lot of pressure and as a result of this He withdrew to the Garden of Gethsemane (one of His favorite places overlooking Jerusalem) where he could find the strength to face the cross. Not wanting to be alone He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there” (Matthew 26:36). He then specifically chose Peter, James, and John to go with Him.
What is interesting is that Jesus did not ask them to give him a lot of good advice. Nor did He ask them to preach to Him because He certainly didn't need a sermon. I believe He just wanted His friends to stay with him in his hour of need and pray for him.
The truth is Jesus was lonely. Though God and yet man, He was experiencing cosmic, epic loneliness, and He was asking for a little companionship. I believe many people today can relate to the experience of Jesus. We usually know what we should do but lack the support and strength to follow through. What we need is a little companionship.
This story is a reminder to me personally that when someone is going through a tough time in life, one of the best things we can do is just be there for them. Galatians 6:2 tells us, “Carry each other's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
You will recall that when Job's world fell apart and he lost everything that was dear to him in a matter of hours, his wife did not help the situation when she said, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9).
Perhaps Jobs three friends who showed up a little bit later and saw Job covered in boils and depressed understood that words and explanations were not what Job needed. The Bible tells us that instead of giving him a lot of advice they just sat with him and cried. And that was probably the best thing they could have done for him. If only they had continued to do so instead of offer him advice as they later did!
I have found this to be so true. When people are experiencing difficulties in their lives –difficulties in relationships, difficulties with their children, having to deal with the reality of a terminal illness – what people really need is not someone with all the right answers but someone to just weep with them. The fact of the matter is in such situations we rarely have the right answers.
I have personally found that when someone is hurting or suffering, we can actually cause more pain when we try to give people answers. I once heard a pastor say, “Preach the gospel, and when necessary, use words.” Sometimes the best thing you can do is just be there for someone.
Who has God placed in your life to listen carefully and in a friendly way, especially someone who is need?