Monday, October 20, 2008

What do you say when someone is hurting?

I have reconnected with a lot of friends since starting my blog. I have also been blessed to have met a lot of wonderful new people.

I am particularly thankful for one who has become so much more than a blogger buddy--she has become a true friend, in every sense of the word. The fact that we have never seen each other face to face has never stopped us from having wonderful, open and honest communication about some of the most difficult things we have been through here on this earth. I feel fortunate to know sweet Kenzie, and am blessed by her constantly.

A couple of months ago, she posted this wonderful devotional on her blog, and in light of Jana's, Jill's, and Charity's recent losses, I asked her if she would give me permission to repost it on my blog. I hope you will take the time to read and consider this. If you have ever had someone near and dear to you that has suffered any kind of a loss (and who of us hasn't, really?) then, I believe, this will prove to be helpful in knowing how to help them.....because many times, we just do not know what to say.

Have a blessed weekend everyone.

Original post from Kenzie:

Prayerful Silence

The devotional below has spoken to me on so many different levels and after reading it several times over the last few weeks, I have felt compelled to share it. We all have experienced grief, loss or been through great struggles and suffering. Many of us have also walked with others through tragic losses and been on our knees late into the night covering them in prayer and asking for mercy and grace. And yet often, either as the person in tragedy or the friend standing close by, we simply don't know what to say. Sometimes the voids are filled with awkward looks, sometimes they are filled with words that have no relevance, and other times they are filled with words of truly Biblical promise that just don't feel right once they have entered the conversation. I have received all of them and I have done each of them as well and I think the Biblical insight provided here is something that shouldn't be missed. Words are not always needed to fill the air and as someone who has just been through great loss, simply the presence of others or hearing the words "I don't know what to say..." can serve as great a comfort as any. Undoubtedly there are times to speak and times to remain silent... It's prayerful discernment that will give you the right answer. Ask the Lord to guide you and simply follow His lead to know what is most appropriate.

Silence is Golden

A devotional for the day from Women's Devotional Bible- NIV

There's no "how-to" manual describing what to say or do for someone who has suffered a great loss. A mother loses her child to disease, a wife loses her husband to divorce, a family loses their home to fire. What do you say?

Job was suffering. All of his children, servants, flocks and herds were gone. His health and well-being were decimated. Job's wife bitterly responded, "Curse God and die!" As much as she, too, must have been suffering, Job's wife talked too much and too soon.

When Job's three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, came to see him, the Bible tells us that Job had been disfigured by grief. Job's friends wept aloud, tore their robes and threw dust into the air- the ancient mourning rituals for death or tragic loss. For seven days and nights they did not utter a word. They simply sat beside him in silence. "They then sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was."- Job 2:13

Later on, Job's friends tried to explain away his misfortunes and wrongly blamed Job. But at the beginning, they got it right by recognizing that nothing they could say could assuage his grief. Here, they offered him not words, but the comfort of their presence.

When we encounter friends who have suffered great loss, it is easy to drop off a casserole, send a sympathy card or say, "Call me if you need anything." We often rely on pat answers: "God knows best; all things work together for good." Sometimes we speak too much or too soon. Maybe we're fearful in the presence of others' pain, so we babble about meaningless things. Sometimes we're fearful of the roiling emotions lurking below the surface, so we don't even make contact.

Perhaps Job's friends stumbled onto one key to mourning with those who mourn: Have the wisdom to know when to talk and when to stay silent. Solomon said, "There is a time for everything... a time to weep and time to laugh... a time to be silent and a time to speak" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4, 7). You can pray for the wisdom to realize when your presence will speak louder than words. Your presence says, "I'm here for your. I love you. I am walking through this valley with you."

The next time you find yourself eye-to-eye with someone in grief, don't worry about what you will say. God will give you words to speak and the wisdom to know when to keep silent.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Has there ever been a time when you were grieving or struggling and someones advice or comments were like pouring salt on a wound? How did it affect you?
  2. What was the most helpful thing that anyone has ever done for you during a time of loss or great struggle?
  3. How can you show support to someone you know who is struggling?

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace."- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8


Kara said...

I have learned not to say too much over the years and I am slowly getting it! I love to chat, but know now that a hug speaks volumes. I remember seeing this on Kenzie's blog, but thanks for reminding me again :) I hope I don't ever say too much to you :)

Julie said...

That was a great thing to post. I think a lot of times we want to say something that will miraculously make a person feel better, because we don't want to see them hurting. I'm totally guilty of that.

I have learned that sometimes just being a silent shoulder to cry on can work wonders.

Kenzie said...

Hey girl-

It's so funny... I re-read this whole post and without your introduction, I don't know that I would have realized until the end that this was the one I posted. Obviously we all need reminders of this and I remember the first time reading this in my Bible, I immediately starred it, wanting to come back and read it again and again.

I love you and am SO grateful for your friendship!

Kathy said...

Oh Devin, this was so great..

I could fill a notebook of all the crack pot things people have said during trials in my life...

"You can pray for the wisdom to realize when your presence will speak louder than words. Your presence says, "I'm here for your. I love you. I am walking through this valley with you."

So true, I am so thankful for the people who will "get dirty" with me in the tough times...

You are wonderful!