Don’t Say it!!! (but what do we say then?)
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3 for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4 (NRSV)
How does God console?
Certainly not with pious platitudes like, “after all the tribulation it’s not as bad as it seems.” On the contrary, he allows us to see the suffering that has befallen us in all its horrors, but silently and calmly he shows us heaven.
I’ve seen it too many times, and even more, have I heard it.
SOmeone walks up to someone who is suffering and gives them some words that are supposed to be comforting, but are not. They think they are giving them Biblical advice, but they aren’t.
Sayings like, “God wouldn’t give you anything you can’t handle.”
What these words, these platitudes do is demean and minimalize the pain the person is trying to endure. They come across as uncaring as if the grief and pain you are dealing with are not that overwhelming, as if you can brush it off, pick yourself up, and act as if nothing happened.
But something did, and the pain is…enhanced by the “well-wishers” and people that think they are really helping.
But they don’t know what to say…and so they open their mouths, and stuff comes out…
All of us have done it, and most of us have the scars from hearing it.
So what should we say, when we don’t know what to say?
The first lesson is that you don’t have ot say anything. Be there, cry with them (see Romans 12:15) Your presence, empathy and compassion will be heard louder than even the nest words of comfort.
If you have to say things, reminders of God’s presence matter most, something like Psalm 139, or Psalm 23. Give them permission to cry out and grieve (check out Jeremiah 20 for instance)
Pray with them, that God would help them find a revitalizing rest and peace, for that He has promised.
To say it in another way, be there, but let the Holy Spirit comfort them
Be there… be quiet, help them know God is there…
Help them realize, carefully, that we are in the presence of God, and that is our ultimate hope and peace.
That is our role, and it is what we need to…
Lord, bless us as we encounter pain and suffering, help us to be wise and compassionate, investing time in being there for others. Help us to allow the Holy Spirit to bring the healing, as we step out of the way. Thatnk You Father, for ensuring that we aren’t alone as we minister as your hands. In Jesus name. we pray, AMEN!
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 40). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.