“God takes us into the depths so that we may reach the heights.” I thought that sounded pretty good. I patted the shoulder across the corner of the kitchen table with what I thought was a comforting sort of pat.
“I don’t even know what that means,” he said, shrugging his shoulder out from underneath the next pat about to land on it.
“Romans 8:28, God works all things to the good, and all that. You know the verse.”
“I’m hurting here and you’re dropping Scripture bombs on me?”
“What’s wrong with Scripture?” That sounded defensive even to me so I added, ”It’s God’s word.”
“I know that. Doesn’t mean your platitudes are helping any.” He leaned over even further in his chair, chest practically resting on his lap.
“They’re not my platitudes,” I said, trying again, “they’re God’s.” That didn’t come out right.
He looked at me sideways and then dropped his head again. In a voice barely audible over the hum of the refrigerator, “Whatever they are, I don’t want them.”
“Hey, I’m just trying to help here.” I’d lost all pretense of hiding my defensiveness.
“I know. But you’re not.” He gave me another sideways look, but this time with just a hint of a curve at one corner of his mouth, maybe a smile and maybe a sneer. “Try something else.” Back down went his head.
I sat there, stumped, silent.
“That’s a start,” he said.
More silence. Then a small groan and a soft sob, and those unpatted shoulders started rocking up and down slowly. I stood up and moved behind him, resting my hands lightly on his back as he wept into his lap.
“God, if we can’t come to you for comfort, I don’t know where we can turn.” I stopped, not knowing what else to say, or if to say anything else, or if I should have said even this much.
More silence, then, “That’s good too,” came the muffled voice from his lap.
So I prayed some more. For him. And for me.