Well English doesn't have a sufficiently short way to say "I see you experiencing hardship and sympathize and/or empathize, and although I may not be able to do anything useful or tangible to help you, I deeply feel for you and will be thinking of/praying for you. I will not ignore or downplay your struggle. I won't gossip about it. I won't pretend I know all about it or you. I won't think I'm better than you are because I'm not experiencing that struggle or making that decision. (and so on)"
Hugs are better, but it's weird to hug strangers, and often even friends. We're not a super warm society and we get colder every day, it seems.
I agree with you, but I think we're addressing two different things. I think you're thinking in terms of someone wrestling with clear moral decisions or positions. What I'm saying could apply there, too. But primarily I'm addressing any life crisis or struggle that a person can go through, that often doesn't have a clear moral direction, even in Christianity. Job loss, infertility, social pressures of all kinds, loss, illness, injury, house fires. Anything. A person can struggle with these things with God in view, or not. But in all cases, I do argue that compassion and commiseration over the struggle itself is often the only response we're able to offer without increasing the emotional burden.
If we bring morals into it, I think it's necessary to always bear in mind that we have free will, and while God is unchanging, a person's disposition toward God changes, and must be open to Him before anything can happen on that front. Trying to force that from the outside will only damage relationships and create hardness of heart. And if the person does
eventually come to God, they will be doing it in spite of us instead of because of us. I've been in both positions.
Anyway, in the the cliff scenario in how I'm addressing it, it is the bystanders
who are telling the teetering/falling/broken person to "unsee" their reality, or that they're overreacting. In my case, I was told essentially that "jumping" was the right thing to do. The biblical
thing to do. A few people even wondered why I didn't do it sooner. Out of dozens of people that opined at some point during that process, three responded in non-hurtful ways. Two of those three actually commiserated. One
of those three offered a sound alternative that didn't involve plunging off a cliff. A fourth person tried to be helpful by suggesting a walk along the beach to the person lying in pieces on the shore. I love irony, but shock and grief seem to mess with one's sense of humor.
But as I said upthread, I've been one of the dozens saying dumb and hurtful things in someone else's life. I'll likely be one in the future, too. Forgiveness definitely plays a huge role in the mess of life (of course we "know" this). Anyway, I'll resist the temptation to delete all of this (rewrite #3). Hope it clarifies what I've been trying to say. I'm sorry if it doesn't, or is bothersome, or just plain long.