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 a 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 they 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?

I would ask today that you lift up two beautiful families that I have mentioned in earlier posts. ~Please be in prayer for the Zuckero family as they prepare to meet their sweet little boy, Nolan Alexander, tomorrow, August 27th. Nolan has been prenatally diagnosed with Trisomy 18. ~Also be praying for the Paige Family. They met their precious son, Christian Dale, on Monday the 18th, and returned him to the Lord's arms this past Friday night, the 22nd. He too had Trisomy 18, but is now healed and whole in God's eternal presence.

Thank you for praying!

"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


Judy said…
Remember your prayer back in January? You prayed that you wouldn't "waste" any of this. With tears streaming down my face I can tell you that your prayer is being answered. I don't know you, but I have watched you mourn and grieve, yet at the same time comfort others going through similar experiences, and then you continually pass on the wisdom you have gleened from your heart ache to the rest of us. You have brought honor and glory to your heavenly father with every step you have taken. Maddox's life continues to serve such great purpose as you walk in obedience with the Lord. Thank you for being a blessing to so many (me included)!
Kirsten said…
Sweet Kenzie,

Just thinking of you and your precious heart makes me smile. I adore you and amazed by how selfless, caring and encouraging you are. You are such a blessing to so many. Your dependence on God blows me away - it is the only way that you can support so many with such encouragement when you are still on your journey. I pray for you often and look forward to reading your blog.

Chloe's due date is coming up on Sep. 4. I don't know what to expect, but we are going to take it easy. I know it will be emotional. God has brought us this far, He will take us the whole way.

Thinking of Faith Clare fills my heart with joy for your family. I look forward to the day when we will have some good news to share as well. God willing, in the next few months.

Blessing and hugs to you,
Cathy said…
Praying for these families. I love the new look of your site. Hoping you are feeling well and your family is doing good.
Mae said…
I have only just come across your blog and I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for sharing yourself with so many faceless, random people.
I have not suffered loss like you have but I know people who have. Just reading what you've written, especially this post, has given me insight on how to be there for friends who are going through something similar. Thank you for that.

God Bless
Karen Z said…

Thanks for this post. As you are aware, this is painfully appropriate for me and my family at this time as we will be leaving the hospital today without our sweet baby Nolan. I have been reflecting on all of the ways that people have helped us over the last few days whether it be with their medical knowledge, their words, helping with our children, crying with us, laughing with us or just being in our presence and being silent. Everyone plays an important part in God's plan for us and I appreciate you reminding us that sometimes it is ok to not say anything.

Thanks for sharing,
Thinking of you Kenzie! I miss you. I hope you are feeling well. This was a good post and so true, most of the time words do not cover what we are feeling so why bother? I have said to myself at times "shut up and pray". My girls and I started reading Job in their devotional bible last night, it's powerful.
I am continuing to pray for these families as well as for you guys.
Love you,

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