In my job I hear stories, lots of personal stories. Of loss, of pain, of suffering. The tears flow, the voice catches, the eyes grow weary. The shoulders slump, and out of the person's mouth I hear what happened and the ugliness of it.
My heart responds, and I want to "fix it". But I can't. The searing pain, the hopelessness of the story, and I want to DO something. A righteous fire builds within me, and I want to defend this ragged soul, who has shared their thorny and wrenching agony.
Instead, the Lord tells me "just listen!" So I share compassion with my voice, my eyes, my body language. I am NOT to be the white knight, the hero of the story I just heard. But I try to show this friend I care deeply.
Friends, the eyes are the windows of the soul. Should you get the opportunity to listen to a broken soul in the days ahead, be prepared. Do not make rash promises to fix things. Show compassion by your eyes, and be ok to weep with those who weep. Where appropriate, use the power of touch. Pray fervently for wisdom as you listen, and ask for the right words (used judiciously) when the broken soul looks to you for them. Don't be ashamed to pray out loud for comfort for the wounded friend. In your own style.
God has put you in that situation on purpose, to listen much, speak only when necessary, and pour the salve of compassion on that broken and bleeding friend. You are created for that moment, and equipped to show the heart of Jesus. You don't need a PHD to give away your heart. In the words of Isaiah in the Old Testament: "Here am I. Send me!"