For the past several weeks I have been reading the blog of Joe and Laura Hays, church planters living in Brooklyn. Their baby was recently born with a life threatening condition and they are updating friends and family (and strangers like me) about it. He is continuing to fight day by day for his little life.

From a link on their site I learned about little Noah Whaley, who was born last week with extremely little brain activity. His parents were not expecting to face this at all, and have been chronicling his condition and their emotions on their blog. I just read that yesterday he passed away peacefully.

Please pray for both of these families. I cannot even imagine the emotions they must be experiencing.

What do things like this mean? Theologians of all types have their different answers, but honestly they don’t mean a lot when you’re the one suffering. The thing is that so many well intentioned people try to push theology and religion on you when you’re hurting, which is so… bad.

I’ve been through two very trying times in my life. Once when I moved from my hometown when I was 16 and the other when I was very very sick two years ago. Both times I can clearly recall well meaning people shoving their “God is good, all the time!” type sentiments at me. Rare, but precious, were those who would just allow me to experience and feel what I was feeling. The anger, the hurt, the sadness, the mourning… the whole experience, albeit not pleasant by any means, is natural and cathartic. Maybe it’s our culture in America, maybe it’s our Christian culture, but a lot of people try to deny that natural grieving process and replace it with their feel good religion. I’ll never forget my best friend’s mom who simply told me “It’s okay to cry” and let me when I said goodbye to my best friend. I’ll never forget my parents who simply cried with me during the days in the hospital when I wanted to give up hope.

Of course encouragement has it’s place, and it’s natural to want to do or say something to help those you love who are hurting. But there are times when you need to “weep with those who weep” and keep the “all things work for good” verses for another time. Presence is everything.

When Job’s three friends… heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
Job 2:11-13