Sometimes words seem so foolish. When tragedy strikes or when death happens, words are necessary, but often we are at a loss as to what to say in those moments. We find our intent and their needs to be out of sync. That is to say, we know they need something, but we don’t know exactly what they need. We know they need a word of encouragement, but what type of encouragement? We know they need a word of healing, but what kind of healing? We want them to desperately know that we love them…we are here for them…and that we care for them. So what do we do when words seem so foolish? Three thoughts:
1) Choose to speak words anyway. The Bible declares in Proverbs 18:21 that “death and life are in the power of the tongue…” This verse proves to us the power of our words to bring about life or death…to produce healing or pain. Never underestimate the power of your words. Choose to say powerful words like, “I love you”…”I am here for you”…and “We support you.” These simple words and phrases, if they reflect the honesty of your heart, will help, heal, and comfort those in need. Words alone can’t heal, and your words alone are only a small part of their healing process, but your words are absolutely vital in their total healing process.
2) Choose to speak words sparingly. In other words, in a moment of sorrow, choose your words carefully. Don’t feel as if you have to drown a sorrowful situation in a plethora of words. Remember Job’s three friends? Job had just lost everything – his family, his health, and his wealth. What did his three friends do? They came to him and “sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:13). And then…they opened their mouths and begin to accuse Job of all kinds of evil, malicious things in order to…get this…help him! Ha! All this to say that too many words, and especially too many of the wrong kinds of words, will do more harm than good. When tragedy strikes…when bad news breaks…when death happens…words are necessary, but let your words be few.
3) Choose to speak words biblically. That is to say, even if words seem foolish, remind your sorrowing friend or family member of God’s goodness…of God’s promises….of God Himself and who He is and what He has done. Pointing people to heaven, to the cross, and to Jesus our Savior is never a foolish thing to do. It is always right. It is always biblical. And in the end, it is always helpful. Our words often seem foolish because they are foolish, but God’s words are never foolish – they are truly powerful! The unknown author of Hebrews writes this in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” God’s words are far more powerful than your own words – so choose to speak them!
Yes, sometimes tragedy strikes and we simply need to be there for our friend or family member. This is called the ministry of presence, just being there for our loved ones, but eventually words will be necessary. Friends, in that moment, never underestimate the power of your words. Yes, words often seem foolish in moments of crises, but they are absolutely necessary to the healing process. So choose to speak. And as you speak do so sparingly and biblically. Doing this will not solve all of their problems or eliminate all of their hurt, but it will be one small step forward for them…and for you.