When You Don't Know What to Say
"The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him." Nahum 1:7 (NIV 1984)
Recently a moving truck pulled up to my friend's house. Sometimes moving signifies something exciting and new. Sometimes it doesn't.
This move signified an end. A few hours into the process of emptying her home, the movers carried out her wedding portrait and asked, "Are you taking the photographs separately?"
"Yes," she said, the irony not escaping her. Separately. That was how she'd be living now. Separate from their neighborhood. Separate from her husband. Separate from the way she thought life would be.
She took the wedding portrait and a feeling of confusion washed over her. Through her tears she called me and said, "I don't know what to do with this portrait. What do you do with things that have no place anymore? We built a life together and now there's no more together."
I knew better than to throw out a quippy bit of Christianese. Someone once told me as I stood over my dying sister's bedside, "You just have to let go and let God." They meant well. But it infuriated me. No, I wouldn't throw out something just to fill the uncomfortable silence. Trite sayings weren't going to curl up in bed with her and hold her unglued heart.
Maybe you've been there. Whether you were the one sitting in the midst of confusion or the one trying desperately to know what to say, I understand. Sometimes we just have to acknowledge that good feelings won't be there for a while. And when there's no way to feel better in the moment, we have to place our feet on the only solid ground there is—God's truth.
His truth won't shift with feelings.
His truth won't drown in a sea of tears.
His truth won't leave you even when your gut honest cries don't sound so Christian.
I finally said, "I don't have answers, but I do have prayers. And I'm going to write out conversations I have with God so you'll know He's not being silent right now. He sees you. He hears you. And through His truth He will comfort you."
I pulled out my Bible and poured out the hurt and sadness. "God show me the right truths. Use my hand to write out some comfort from Your Word for my friend."
Me: Lord, it's hard to watch my friend hurt so much. She begged You to help save her marriage and honestly we're confused why it still fell apart.
The Lord: Does Job 17:11 express the way you're feeling? "My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart." (NIV 1984)
Me: Lord, don't You see her tears? If seeing her sadness breaks my heart, it must break Yours too.
The Lord: Recall the beauty of trusting the only One who can see what is and what is to come. Nahum 1:7... "The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him." (NIV 1984)
Me: I do trust You. But for everything to end like this is so hard. It just seems pointless.
The Lord: Nothing I allow you to go through is pointless. Even in the midst of hurt I will work good for her: now and in the future. I still have a grand plan for her. Proverbs 19:20-21... "Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." (NIV 1984)
Me: I just need to know why she has to go through this.
The Lord: You don't have to have answers. You just need to trust. Isaiah 55:9b ... "My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (NIV 1984)
Me: But what about the desires of her heart Lord?
The Lord: I am the only one who knows the full scope of those desires. I'll give her new desires and help her so those desires come to pass. Just encourage her to trust Me and make wise choices. Psalm 37:3-4 ... "Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." (NIV 1984)
I sent this written out conversation with God to my friend. My note didn't fix her hurt or answer her questions. It didn't give her a place to put those things that seemed to have no place right now. But it did get her to open up God's Word and start having conversations with Him for herself. And as she moves on, this is a good first step to take.
Dear Lord, I lift my hurting friend to You. For You are the only One who can ultimately lift her up. Through all the ups and downs in life, may she trust You in a very personal way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Trust meets every circumstance with the assurance of God's promises.
What is a disappointment you've walked through lately? Write the verses above on index cards to carry with you and write the words "I believe" after each one.
Psalm 37:3-4, "Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." (NIV 1984)