It is not fixing things or somehow stemming the pain. It is simply being with someone in their time of suffering or sorrow.
The one whose romance has broken up. The one who has been made redundant. The one whose family have grown and left home. The one whose life partner has passed away.
Someone who consoles doesn’t even try to rationalise the other’s loss and shouldn’t dare. They quietly listen, acknowledge, respect. They sit with, and very possibly weep with the one in pain. When we do so, we show solidarity as vulnerable, hurting fellow human beings ourselves. We give dignity to one another’s tears.
Jesus’ disciples were struggling to row across the stormy sea in the dark. The Son of God calmed the storm, as we might almost expect, but not before joining His friends in the thick of it. That is a large part of what we call ‘the Incarnation’, God coming to us in the flesh, sharing our vulnerability, struggling through the storm to be beside us and say, ‘Don’t be afraid.’
God doesn’t always take away the difficulty or sorrow. Not immediately or completely. That will only be fulfilled in resurrection glory at Christ’s Return. For now He has come to us in the flesh, and comes to believers still by His Spirit, also known as ‘the Comforter’.
He consoles us with His presence, teaching us faith and courage.
And instructs His followers to do likewise.
We don’t remove the sorrow from each other’s lives. But perhaps God in His grace can use our sharing of grief to bring comfort, a little beauty and kindness and echoes of One Who ‘took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows’. (Isaiah 53)
And so enters the possibility for hope.