When faced with the suffering of others there are two roads we can take.
Most of the time, because we don't like being uncomfortable and vulnerable we take the well traveled grief-super-highway and offer some type of recipe/cure. A step by step guide that makes us feel like we consoled the person, and since it contains facts and scripture it feels like a good solid thing to say. You know, something like quoting Romans 8:23, "all things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose," and fleeing the scene.
But what if we take the path less traveled? What if we allow ourselves to walk down the darker road - the one over grown with brush and briars - and grieve with them? What if we could show the tender parts, the soft squishy pink vulnerable parts, the true weakness of our humanity and just grieve with them?
I wonder what our Christian communities would look like if we grieved together, baring our weaknesses so that God's strength could shine through them. He is the one who comforts. He is the one who heals. He is the one who lights up the situation. Not us. All we can do as humans, even followers of Christ, is mess things up when we get our little glory-stealing hands on them. When we try to be personal saviors to those in need what we are really saying is, "I have the answer," or worse "I am the answer."
I don't pretend to have all of the answers, or even some of the right ones. I don't understand the complete theology of suffering. But I have seen the bonds of Christian Brotherhood strengthened when suffering and grief are met with true Christ-like compassion.
We definitely have a lot of food for thought in the following passage from Streams in the Desert:
If you aspire to be a person of consolation, if you want to share the priestly gift of sympathy, if you desire to go beyond giving commonplace comfort to a heart that is tempted, and if you long to go through the daily exchanges of life with the kind of tact that never inflicts pain then you must be prepared to pay the price of a costly education - for like Christ you must suffer.
Fredrick William Robertson