When You Don’t Know What to Say

There’s not often when I find myself speechless. Those that know me can attest to the truth of that statement. Today, however, was a different story.

Let me first say that being a pastor has given me a VIP Pass to the most tragic moments in people’s lives. A literal front row seat to the hard to swallow moments in life. This afternoon as I talked with a sister in Christ who’s husband is courageously fighting cancer. She was spent, frustrated, hurting and at the end of her rope. As she shared I could feel the end of the rope with her and I so badly wanted to give a helpful answer to the questions we all ask, “Why? Why me? Why us? Where’s the answer to prayer?”

The temptation to just start rattling off a trite prepared response you’d read on a facebook poster is palpable. But deep down you know a sound byte isn’t going fix this. It just won’t do.

Let me stop here for a moment and ask this question, have you ever been there? Have you ever been faced with someone’s life circumstance that was so overwhelming and devastating that you had no idea what to say?

Me too.

In those moments let me encourage you to lean in to not knowing what to say. You read that right. Sometimes the greatest comfort you can give someone is letting them know that you don’t know the answer to those questions either. That’s not a lack of faith, that’s honesty. We shouldn’t try and “fake it til we make it” in those moments. Sometimes our words failing us is the most helpful gift to the other person. Embrace that silence and just minister with your presence.

Back to this afternoon’s conversation, I resisted the urge to try and answer the “why” questions and after a moment of silence shared with her the only answer I did have and that was this, “We can trust God that he has this outcome in hand and that he’s walking with you and your husband through this. Our hope isn’t in our own desired outcome or what seems like frail prayers. It’s in His ultimate perfect will.”

You don’t have to have all of the answers to all of life’s questions. Just be there and give them what you do have…..your hope in Jesus.

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