It was the 1st anniversary of the death of her friend’s father, and she couldn’t put into words what she wanted to say. The text she started now felt flat and dry and wholly inadequate. She was tempted to take up her bible and insert a profound and prolific verse she had scraped up, last minute, to wield in a highly spiritual fashion, complete with the words, “I will be praying for God’s comfort for you.” She did that sometimes, and while she always meant it, today she stopped and thought first. She thought about what it would be like to reach a 1-year milestone of losing someone you loved so dearly. The Bible always has words; how to use them was always the question.
She thought how easy it is to use flippant phrases like, “well, God is sovereign”, or “….but at least he is in heaven now”, without stopping for a breath of air or a moment of wisdom. True. Yes, God is sovereign and hopefully, he (whoever he is) is in heaven. But when do we wield those verses and when do we lay them down softly and wait? Oftentimes, she wanted to take them up too badly; she was so eager to lessen the pain that sometimes she was unwilling to let it sit, raw and deep. She had to bite her tongue and not say what she’d heard said so many times.
She found some author’s interpretation of this concept, and paraphrased it to say the following:
“We are too quick to look for the silver lining in other people’s troubles. We make ourselves into a sort of false comforter who always begins with “At least.” “You’ve lost your job, but at least you have your health.” “Yes, your child may be disabled, but at least he’s alive.” “Yes, you may be walking through barrenness, but at least you’re married.” In doing this, we compare their sufferings to greater ones; beginning with the mindset of “It could always be worse,” so unintentionally ending up with, “And therefore you’ve no right to grieve as you are.” (Taken from Joe Rigney’s helpful article, Killing them Softly https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/killing-them-softly)
So much of this takes patience, she realizes. Patience and dependence. It takes patience to listen and wait to say something, or anything at all, because it may not be the right thing or the right time. And it takes dependence because you cannot say the right thing without the Spirit leading you into it.
So, she leaves the text ending at, “….and I am so sorry.” It feels like cutting a pan of brownies and leaving a little corner uneven. You want to straighten it out so badly – you feel this inclination to perfect something.
But you cannot. And you are just the servant anyways; you are not the King. And thank goodness for that. This does not depend on you.