I have a friend who has an amazing gift of keeping quiet when needed. To me, this shows a great amount of self control and wisdom on her part.
I’ve admired this quality in her for as long as I’ve known her.
But there’s a flip side to it, too. There have been times I have desperately wanted her to give me answers but she has remained quiet instead. Irritation can rear it’s nasty little head if I let it, and the gift I so admire, suddenly, becomes the gift I want her to ignore and just tell me what to do.
But you see, it’s not her job to tell me what to do—that is … unless the Holy Spirit tells her to.
And to be honest, I’m seeking answers from the wrong person at this point.
We all need great friends. Someone who we can be real with. Someone who knows all the good, bad, and ugly—and still loves us. We need these people in our journey of life.
But there are times, if we’re not careful, we can get so connected with a person that when a crisis arises the first person we call is that friend. We forget to run to our Father. He’s the one with all of the power. Our friend is just a supporter, a carrier of burdens, and a comforter.
But the Holy Spirit is all of these and more. He has the power to soothe our soul and intervene on our behalf with God who has the power to heal, change a situation, or help us see something in a different light.
“Also, the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain. God can see what is in people’s hearts. And he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way God wants.”
Romans 8:26-27 NCV
Our friend can only do so much. Why is it that we expect more from them?
Maybe because we unintentionally put them in the place of God? (Ouch! That’s stings a little. And not the message I intended to share, but it’s good, so it’s staying.)
I want to be more like my friend. I want to know when to share wisdom and when to sit quietly. I want to be so in tune with the Holy Spirit that I hear Him say, “share this” or “Shhh, they aren’t ready. Give Me time to work in their heart to hear the truth in the way it’s meant to be heard.”
“There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.”
Which leads us to my point of this blog. Sometimes people are not willing (or in the emotional state of mind) to hear some truths. We must be careful with our words, even when our words are truth.
One of the most popular things said to me after my sister was murdered was “God is in control”.
Well… yes, He is… but…
In the middle of traumatic grief (grief that had a wide variety of crazy emotions attached to it) that was not what I was ready or wanted to hear.
In fact, my anger (in my grief) grabbed a hold of that and chewed it to bits.
So, if God is in control, then what you’re saying is that God allowed my sister get raped, murdered, and dumped in the woods for 6 weeks until someone finally found her body? (Uhm… pretty sure that’s not what they meant to happen when they said it.)
With all of the crazy emotions I had running through me, that is immediately where my mind went.
So you see, probably not the best thing to say to someone in a situation of loss. (Just a little inside tip;)
It’s truth. But not a truth a grieving person may be ready to hear during this season of their life.
Better truths are to remind them “God loves you.” “What was meant for evil God will use for good. Maybe not right now, but He will use it at some point. Hang in there. I’m with you.”
It could be that we are suppose to remain silent until the Holy Spirit tells us to speak. It’s hard to be quiet when someone you love is hurting. It hurts us when they hurt. We want to comfort. We can even be afraid they may wander from God. So we force words (truth) on them in an attempt to control the situation.
My friend walked with me down a dark and ugly road for a long time after my sister’s murder. There were times I pushed her away, times I allowed her near, and times I was not a good friend to her at all, but she hung in there with me. Never giving up on me. And guess what, 90% of the time she was silent. She was there, giving me the comfort I needed and refusing to allow me to completely isolate myself, but without words. And in that 10% of the time she did have words, I trusted her words. I listened.
“Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.”
Job 2:13 NLT
This one verse is such a powerful statement to us as we walk with someone through grief. More often than not, we get it wrong simply because we become uncomfortable in silence.
Oh, my friend was praying, pleading, and even found herself angry at God at times, but it was all behind the scenes. She was my intercessor. Held my arms up when I couldn’t. And she never once left me.
Her silent strength means more to me than she will ever know. And I hope, if ever needed, I can be the same for her one day.
“Later, when Moses’ arms became tired, the men put a large rock under him, and he sat on it. Then Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands—Aaron on one side and Hur on the other. They kept his hands steady until the sun went down.”
Exodus 17:12 NCV
**I also had a Hur, another friend, who stood beside me and never left me. (More about her in another blog.)**
We need friends in our lives. We need them to hold our arms up when we are tired, but we have to be extremely careful not to place them higher than God. (If they are a good friend, they don’t want that position anyway.)
And last, we need to learn to be a friend who listens to the Holy Spirit, speaking when He tells us to and practicing silence when He commands. It’s not our place to fix. Yes, we desperately want to help them get better, but our place is to walk beside them and be an intercessor in prayer for them.