A Lesson from the Elephants

by Crystal Bowman

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Romans 12:15 ESV

My husband and I were away on a weekend business trip and found ourselves with free time on a Friday evening. As we drove through town looking for something interesting to do, the local museum advertised a showing of Elephants in Africa in their state-of-the-art IMAX theater. We parked our car, bought tickets, and then entered the massive theater with a wrap-around screen and surround-sound audio.

The National Geographic-type film documented the day-by-day experiences of a clan of African elephants as they moved from one place to another in search of water and food. As we watched from the center of the theater, we felt like we were in the middle of the jungle with the camera crew!

Since elephants can walk within hours of birth, a newborn calf ambled on wobbly legs closely behind his mother. As weeks passed, the baby grew larger and stronger and began playful interaction with the other elephants. After a while, however, food and water became scarce, and the calf grew weaker and weaker until it toppled over and died. The mama used her powerful trunk to poke and prod her baby to help him stand up. When her efforts failed, she realized his fate and stood over him, refusing to move as she mourned. During her time of grieving, all the female elephants from the clan surrounded her and stayed by her side for three days until she was ready to travel.

I couldn’t help but see this as a beautiful picture of friendship and caring for those who are hurting. We often don’t know what to do when someone we know is grieving. In our best efforts we may offer a meal, some encouraging words, or a small gift. But perhaps the best thing we can do for someone is to just be there.

Galatians 6:2 (NIV) says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” What is the law of Christ? The answer is found in Mark 12:30-31 (ESV), “‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And in John 15:12 (ASV) we read more words of Jesus, “This is my commandment that you love one another, even as I have loved you.”

Loving your neighbor, friend, sibling, or anyone else in your social circle is not always easy, and sometimes it takes a sacrifice of time to be there for them. But being with someone in their time of need speaks volumes even if we say nothing.

Our current pandemic makes it more challenging than ever to be physically with someone who is hurting, but modern technology allows face-to-face connection with iPhone, Skype, and Zoom. When a long-distance friend of mine lost her husband recently, the Holy Spirit prompted me to call her to see how she was doing. We talked for more than an hour, and she said my call was exactly what she needed that day.

Comforting a friend who is going through a difficult time—whether it’s a divorce, the loss of a loved one, a rebellious child, or something else—is not an easy thing to do. But I have learned a lesson from the friends of that mama elephant. When a friend needs me, I’ll just be there!

Lord, help me to be intentional about reaching out to a friend who is hurting. Help me to weep with those who weep so I can love others the way you love me. Amen 

This article is brought to you by the Advance Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Practically speaking, what do you do to carry someone’s burden?


8 thoughts on “A Lesson from the Elephants

  1. What a bittersweet blog, Crystal. In the Jewish culture, people “sit shiva” with the bereaved family. For seven days (shiva is Hebrew for seven), we bring food, then just sit with the family. Talk when they want to talk. Be silent when they want to be silent. It’s a precious and meaningful tradition.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m reminded of an old Casting Crowns song: “Just love them like Jesus.” It can be intimidating to be around someone who is grieving–you don’t know what to say or do. But just listening or even just sitting with them in silence screams volumes of love toward that grieving one. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.” Psalm 116:15 Thanks for this beautiful reminder this morning!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, what a powerful metaphor from God’s creation about a truly loving way to enter into someone’s grief. Reminds me of the 7 days of Job’s friends grieving with him. And then…bam! They started talking. It was all downhill after that–until God’s messages intervened. Thank you, Crystal, for giving us something we won’t easily forget.


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