Right now there are several people close to me who are suffering through various hardships and I don't feel there is anything I can do for them. I know that the feeling of inadequacy on my part is false. I have offered them my love and support, but more importantly I have offered them my silence.
That may seem odd if you don't know that silence can be a very loving gift. When someone is hurting they don't necessarily want to hear the "God works in mysterious ways" or "all things work together for good for those that love God". Just because it is a right message does not mean it is the right time for the message. My father and I were discussing this just yesterday. A cousin's family is enduring a horrific tragedy. Their two year old daughter was run over and killed. To add to their suffering is the fact the car was driven by her father. For this family the only thing I can offer is my sincere sympathies and unending love. There are no words to in any way make this situation better. Silence is a great gift to give them and I am hoping everyone they meet this week will offer a quiet hug.
I often think of Job when his life fell apart around him. His friends came and for a week they sat with him in the dirt and kept silent. They could not know exactly how he was feeling but they wanted to offer their companionship anyway. For that week, they were the greatest friends a hurting man could have. After that, he should have sent them away.
The next time someone you know comes to you and tells you their tale of woe, pause for a moment and see if the desire to speak comes from your desire to do something or from God. Remember, just because your words may be right, it does not mean it is the right time for them.