Saturday, January 8, 2005. My girlfriend and I were visiting her parents in Las Vegas, and the San Diego Chargers were playing the New York Jets in round one of the NFL playoffs. I had become a Chargers fan after their horrific 1-15 season in 2000, and for the first time in 9 years, they went 12-4 and made the playoffs. The heavily favored Chargers were surprisingly trailing at halftime before roaring back to tie the game with 20 seconds left in the game. In overtime, the Chargers drove to the 22 yard-line to set up an easy field goal for Nate “The Great” Kaeding, who shockingly missed, allowing the Jets to set up a 28 yard field goal, which they did not miss, ending the Chargers dream season right there.
If you’re a sports fan, you know how we were feeling. For 5 months, we’d been hoping, dreaming of this moment. Justified all the reasons our team was superior to all others. Seen them at their worst and at their best. And there, in the span of 5 minutes, it all comes crashing down. Hope is lost, dreams crushed, reality is just too harsh.
As I think about loss, a part of me feels guilty. I mean, mourning a loss like watching baseball, going to the movies, or shopping without a mask seems so petty compared to the thousands with losses so much greater. But ultimately, I think loss is loss. And it’s always hard. And it’s OK to grieve. In fact, I’d say it’s essential. If we never take the time to say “man, this really stinks”, how will we ever heal? How will we ever move on?
If anyone, besides God, understands loss, you’ve got to think of Job. If you’re familiar with the book of Job, Satan accuses Job of only loving God because of what He has done for him. God disagrees, and allows Satan to take everything away from Job, believing he would still follow Him. So Satan does, taking Job’s oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, servants, and even his children. Job laments, of course, but responds with the awesome “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away” (Job 1:21b). Satan tries again, ailing Job with physical pain, and though Job still follows God, he does finally grumble.
But before the end of Job’s story (which I encourage you to read God’s response in Job 38-40), something great happens in Job 2: his friends show up. “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 2:13). His friends just sat with him. They didn’t say “you know what you should do” or “it’s not actually that bad” (though, to be fair, they did eventually say both of those things…), but instead, they were just present. There to say “yeah, that does stink”. And I think that’s what many of us need right now. Not someone to tell us that our loss is insignificant, or even give us the quick-fix. I think we just need someone to sit there beside us and say “I’m here”.
So this week, I’d encourage us all to look for that person in your life. You certainly always have God who is in your corner, but I’ll bet He’s placed a few people in your life who will do the sitting too. Additionally, I bet we know a few people who could use someone to sit beside them, even if it’s through Zoom or 6 feet apart. Let’s be people who sit.