“Know this, my beloved brethren, let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.” James 1:19&20
Have you ever been in a position where you have no idea what to say? Have you ever been at a complete loss of words?
Well, of course you have. Rhetorical questions imply one answer.
Let’s briefly discuss how sometimes that feeling of not knowing what to say is your best friend.
Times of tragedy occur frequently. We see floods, earthquakes, mudslides, avalanches, terrorist attacks, suicides, and sudden deaths by accidents or freak medical instances.
When we experience these events first hand, we ask “why?!?”
When we see others inside of these events we ask “why?!?”
I recommend that we allow ourselves to stay inside of that confusion for a little while longer than we are told to be by our American stoicism. Let me explain why.
When we experience tragedy, part of our heart, mind, and soul is wounded. That is what causes the pain- the aching and the groaning. That wound needs to heal.
By trying to forget it or move on too quickly, we are putting ourselves at risks of infection. Just like if we have a deep cut, that cut must first be cleaned out, then healed from the bottom first in order for it to heal correctly, so also we have to treat tragedy. A surgeon cauterizes a deep wound. They don’t just wrap it in bandages.
When we try to give people answers before they have grieved, we are just wrapping a bandage over a wound that is unclean. We are putting them at risk of emotional infections and large scars.
But if we give them respect and sit with them, our presence is the cleansing balm which is needed on that wound. Then, when the time is right we offer words that extend beyond condolences.
There are also times that are not tragedies where we need to be silent. Often those are times when we feel “attacked” but it is really just our own ego that is being put to death. I experience multiple occasions like this as a young pastor. I often feel inept and want to make a defense for myself. I want to make myself look bigger, better, and like I belong.
But I need to be silent.
I need to listen and learn.
God puts age–wisdom around us, and our speaking and defensiveness does not bring forth what is needed. But, if we listen and learn, we are promised that we will grow more and more mature and into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
But, Ben, aren’t we called to give answers for the hope which lies within?!?!!?
And Scripture calls us to be discerning.
“Rejoice with those that rejoice; Weep with those that weep.” Romans 12:15
This can be done with phrases like:
“I am sorry for your loss.”
“I love you.”
“God loves you.”
“I am praying for you.”
Or simply just giving someone a hug.
And in those times of defensiveness:
“I am sorry.”
“I was wrong.”
“Can you help me understand.”
“Please forgive me.”
“Let’s work this out.”
Well, I have already said too much and rambled on. Ironic for a blog about the importance of silence.