‘I can't take any more of this. I'm at the end of my tether.' You know what it is like, don't you, listening to a case that seems hopeless? While you are hearing with sympathy, part of you is wondering, ‘What can I say?' The mother on my phone did not know what sort of help she needed, only that she was at the end of her resources. The household had become unliveable. When she phoned it was not to ask for specific help, but rather wanted to know, ‘Is there any way we can survive?' She said, ‘We cannot hold this anger and frustration anymore.'
Jesus spent days moving among the sick, the depressed and the demonic, who were drawn to him because they thought, ‘Here is somebody who will listen to my bad news; he will not just walk away.' Most of the miseries we listen to are beyond our power to change, but when we listen to friends with compassion, and avoid blaming, moralising or pushing solutions, we contain their miseries, share their burdens, take in their despair, and metabolise it into hope.