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  • Ashley

Silent Suffering

“There’s a grief that can’t be spoken, there’s a pain goes on and on….”

That line from “Les Miserables” haunts me.  I have always thought of pain and grief to be the result of physical suffering or death, but I’m learning that grief comes in many forms and stems from various sources.

Sometimes we experience a grief that can not be spoken – be it from an inability to articulate the depth of the pain or because the cause involves others outside of ourselves and, therefore, cannot be made fully public.

Nevertheless, the pain is real.  It’s ugly, raw, and cold.  Have you felt it?  A pain that is so overwhelming that it is hard to breathe because of it’s crushing weight.  Feeling as if you will succumb to it’s density or as if you could explode from the magnitude of emotions raging through your being.  There is no escaping.  There is nothing to do but walk through it.  Sometimes grief must be borne in silent darkness while the world spins along – unaware of the storm that is hidden behind a smile.

My husband and I were recently watching “The Lord of the Rings.”  If you have read the books or watched the movie, you may recall that Frodo reached a point in which he decided he must carry out the mission to destroy the ring alone.  However, his faithful friend, Sam, would not leave his side.  It is a touching story line.

Find your Sam.  Reach out to at least one other person with whom you can be completely transparent.  Friends can only be as close as you will allow.  Give someone the blessing of walking beside you and trust them to be loyal.


Maybe you are that friend.  How do you love and walk beside someone who is in the midst of suffering silently?  As someone who has been loved and who has had the privilege of loving others during suffering, I found that it is not complicated.

Be available and intentional with your presence.  Maybe you do not know what to say. That’s okay.  Really.  Words are not always needed.  Sometimes it is simply the presence of another person that is imperative.  The touch of a hand, the warmth of a hug, and tears shed together can express more than words.

Take the time to ask how they are doing -how they are really doing.  Acknowledgment from someone else can be comforting.

Send a text, put a card in the mail, make a phone call, catch up over a cup of coffee, or spend time together doing something that they enjoy.  I know of someone who is going through a great trial.  A friend spent an evening with that person watching old movies, eating junk food, and laughing together for no other reason than that she just wanted to love on the one who was in pain. Simple acts of love can be huge sources of encouragement.


Pray.  Do not cease in your prayers for the one who is suffering. Let them know you are praying.

Direct the one in pain to the ultimate Friend.  There is nothing more loving you can do than to walk with them to the feet of Jesus.  “There is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).  There is Someone who is intimately familiar with suffering of all kinds (Hebrews 4:15).  He is the only One that can truly understand.  He sees beyond the surface.  He longs to carry the burden.  He knows the cry of the heart when no one else does (Romans 8:26).

When you must suffer in silence, call out to God.  He is the safe harbor in the storm.  He gives comfort and peace where there otherwise is none.  He is light that overcomes darkness.  He gives direction and purpose in the midst of questions and chaos.  If you are His child, the fire that causes pain and suffering is not meant to destroy you;  it will refine you.  For those that love God, all things work together for good and are used to forever change the image in the mirror to one that reflects Him (Romans 8:28-29). It can be hard to believe that in the midst of pain.  A friend once told me that, when faith falters, the best thing we can do is preach the Truth to ourselves.

There is a scene from “The Lord of the Ring: The Two Towers” in which Frodo says, ” I can’t do this, Sam.”  (Haven’t you been there too?)  I love Sam’s response.  “I know.  It’s all wrong.  By rights we shouldn’t even be here.  But we are.  It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo.  The ones that really mattered.  Full of darkness and danger, they were.  And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.  Because how could the end be happy?  How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?  But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.  Even the darkness must pass.  A new day will come.  And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.”


To everything there is a season.  “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).  Take comfort in those you can trust to sit beside you in the silence of suffering.  Hold fast to the promises of His word no matter how deep the pain. Rest in the One who brings joy.  Morning is nigh.

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