You listen as long as you need to listen. You bite your tongue to keep from saying anything, even things that might be appropriate to say ... at another time. You answer questions when you have an answer; you refrain from answering questions with simplistic and overused phrases. So, you listen, but you feel very helpless.
You pray. You listen to their heart and offer to pray; then you pray. You lift them up to the Lord and ask Him to provide the direction and the comfort. You remind them that you will continue to pray. And you do. You keep your promise. You pray consistently for weeks. Nothing changes. The person you love is still hurting. You still feel helpless.
You talk to them. You've waited for just the right time and you are convinced that the time is right, so you call. You set up a time to get together. You get together and you talk. You share your thoughts as just that, your thoughts. You admit your limitations, and affirm your love. They thank you for your concern and for your words. You still feel helpless.
You enlist others to pray. You ask your prayer group to pray, you ask your Sunday School class to pray, you post a comment on your online prayer partners page, and you ask your friend at work to pray. You are confident they are praying. Nothing changes. You feel helpless.
You spend time with them. That's what Job's friends did, so you give it try. You go. You sit with them. You are quiet. You just sit there. They weep. You weep. They agonize. You agonize with them. You feel helpless.
Jesus had a definite advantage. When He learned that His friend Lazarus had died and his friends Mary and Martha were hurting, He went to be with them, He listened to their crying, He wept with them. Then, He brought Lazarus back to life.
When they brought their dying children to Him, He healed them. When He saw a crippled man, He healed him. When He saw a blind man, he gave Him sight. When He was approached by the demon possessed, He commanded the demons to leave. When He saw His friends on the boat in a storm, He spoke and the storm calmed.
Jesus could do that. But, what can you do when you know that someone you love is hurting? You listen. You pray. You talk. You enlist others to pray. You spend time with them. You feel helpless. Then, you realize you have done and are doing everything within your power. Then, you leave them with the Lord. You ask Him to do what only He can do. You trust Him. You believe that even though you are helpless, He is not. He can do "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:21 TNIV). Let Him.
Very truly I tell you, all who have faith in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father (John 14:12 TNIV).
See, you are not helpless! With God your words have power. With God your listening makes a difference. With God your presence means something. With God you are not helpless.