When We Want Grace for Speaking Desperate Words

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Here’s When We Want Grace for Speaking Desperate Words

Have you ever just wanted to verbalize how you were feeling and have friends listen without weighing your every word?

Maybe Job’s words to his friends in his suffering resonate with you, “Listen closely to what I’m saying. That’s one consolation you can give me. Bear with me with me and let me speak… How can your empty clichés comfort me?” (Job 21: 2-3a, 34 NLT)

Listening is a vital part of showing up for our friends. We all want to be known and understood, especially as we’re grieving, so listening to our friends in their pain might be the greatest gift we can offer. It is life-giving for others both when their grief is fresh and even after it has gone on for months or even years. As long as we are hurting, we appreciate the gift of listening.

Job went through unthinkable pain and tragedy. His initial response was to praise and trust God as he spoke stirring words of faith. He blessed God even as his seven children lay dead, and all his wealth was gone. But after months of dealing with the loss, missing his beloved children and being mocked for his disgrace, covered with infected boils from his head to his feet, he cried out, “The arrows of the Almighty are in me; my spirit drinks their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me…I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned to me… my eye will never again see good… I would choose strangling and death rather than my bones. I loathe my life” (Job 6, 7).

When his suffering dragged on, Job’s perspective changed. He wondered if God cared about him. He wasn’t sure if God was for him. He questioned God’s love. He wanted to die and wished he had never been born.

We can all understand Job’s reaction. He felt God’s presence and knew God was with him both before and during his calamity. But as the days went on, with no reprieve or relief, Job grew weary. His friends were there, at first to comfort him but over time, they began berating him. First gently, and then more forcefully, insisting that Job’s suffering was a result of his sin. Job wanted help from his friends – a kind word and understanding as he exclaimed, “One should be kind to a fainting friend” (Job 6:14 NLT).

Job’s friends were determined to correct him, to force their warped theology on him, and they became frustrated that he wouldn’t concede their point. Job didn’t want them to take his every word literally. He wasn’t making a theological treatise – he was speaking out of his pain and wanted sympathy and understanding as he groaned, “Do you think that you can reprove words, when the speech of a despairing man is wind?” (Job 6:26).

The speech of a despairing man is wind. The words that we say in our desperation should be words to the wind. Not words to be taken seriously but words we cry instinctively in deep loss. Good friends don’t feel the need to correct everything we say in our pain. Good friends can listen without judgment. Good friends know that we speak in hyperbole in our grief, speaking words that belong to the wind.

Are we kind to our fainting friends? Do we listen to them? Sometimes we are to speak words of encouragement or rebuke as we call them to faith and hope, but this is at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Most often, we are called simply to listen.

Counselors have long waiting lists and are often overbooked, not because people are looking for incredible wisdom. They are usually looking for people who will listen to them and help process what’s going on inside of them. They want people to give them space to speak their mind, listen without judgment and reflect back what they’ve said.

Rather than stuffing his pain, Job wanted to process out loud. Both with his friends and as he lamented to God. Perhaps he knew that those words of lament would ultimately draw him to the Lord more than mouthing words he didn’t feel. Being authentic about our grief is brave, as Ellie Holcomb sings – it’s the bravest thing.

If you have a friend who is struggling, would you consider offering them your time to just sit and listen as they process their grief? Speak little. Resist the urge to correct their words. Summarize and reflect back what you are hearing. Silently pray for them. Trust that the Lord has them in his tender care and is perhaps simply asking you to offer them the gift of prayerful presence. It might draw them closer to God and be more healing than your words and wisdom ever could be.

source : https://www.vaneetha.com/journal/when-we-want-grace-for-desperate-words

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