I was blessed by this – and I can’t agree more.
When somenone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million empty words
– Thema Davies
This devotional is published in the Zondervan Women’s devotional bible.
There’s no how to manual describing what to say or do for someone who has suffered a great loss. A mother loses a child to disease, a wife loses a husband to divorce, a family loses their home to fire. What do you say?
Job was suffering. All of his children, servants, flocks 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 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 night they did not utter a word. They simply sat beside him in silence.
Later on, Job’s friends tried to explain away his misfortune and wrongly blamed Job. But at the beginning, they got it right by recognizing that nothing they could day 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 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” (Ecc 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 you. I love you. I am waling 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.
Text to read: Job 2: 9-13