Speaking Through Silence

God can use our silence as a way of loving others, and we don’t need to pressure ourselves to say something profound and biblical every time someone shares a burden with us.

Can you think of a time when you felt compelled to say something and immediately regretted it? Even though we had good intentions of saying something biblical or trying to give hope, our words were more hurtful than helpful. Often, our timing is off. I’ve heard similar stories from people who have lost a family member, had a miscarriage, or suffered in other ways. They were surrounded by people who spoke too soon or too much.

 

It is better to be quiet than to sound like a fool. After Job loses his property, sons, daughters, and health, his friends are silent when they see that his suffering is very great (Job 2:13). Soon after, their silence is broken with foolish words. Job’s response is a needed reminder for those of us trying to comfort people who are hurting. He says, “Oh that you would keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!” (Job 13:5).

Can you think of a time when you felt compelled to say something and immediately regretted it? Even though we had good intentions of saying something biblical or trying to give hope, our words were more hurtful than helpful. Often, our timing is off. I’ve heard similar stories from people who have lost a family member, had a miscarriage, or suffered in other ways. They were surrounded by people who spoke too soon or too much. “Well, you know, Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for good.” Here’s another example: “Joseph’s brothers meant evil against him, but God meant it for good. You can rejoice in God’s purposes.” These are true, but we can easily ruin the hope of these passages when we use them as an immediate response. Rather, just being there for someone or saying “I’m praying for you” can be simple but powerful ways of loving others and reminding them of God’s presence.

God can use our silence as a way of loving others, and we don’t need to pressure ourselves to say something profound and biblical every time someone shares a burden with us. There is a “time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Eccles. 3:7). For example, I know women who were greatly comforted by having a couple of friends read Scripture to them while they were going through hard trials. That’s what they wanted to hear, and their friends knew it. 

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