Stop, Drop, & Listen

If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas–no wonder my words have been impetuous. (Job 6:2-3 NIV)

Don’t be a fool!

Yes, a fool.

And yes, I am talking to you.

I have made many foolish mistakes in my life. Sometimes I am afraid my picture has been used in the dictionary as the illustration of the definition fool.

Free Online Dictionary: Fool–One who is deficient in judgment, sense, or understanding. One who acts unwisely on a given occasion.

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I wish I had cornered the market when it comes to being a fool, but it would be foolish of me to think so.

So when I say Don’t Be A Fool, it’s really about saving ourselves from creating more heartache, pain, anger, and stress in those who are already dealing with a painful reality.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this post is really about what to do or not and what to say or not when people are grieving.

Grieving is the hardest work I have ever done. Grieving turns your already upside down world into a life that is now also inside out.

Try to imagine.

Let it be the loss of a child and then the depth of the grieving pit is bottomless… to my friends that belong to the cruelest club in all the world, can I get an Amen?

Here’s how not to be foolish when interacting or attempting to comfort those who grieve:

1. If you can’t control your need to say something with words, buy yourself some duct tape or otherwise, don’t say anything other than I am sorry and I love you (repeated over and over again).

Please try to get this. Job’s friends were most helpful when they sat silent with him in the ashes of mourning. But as soon as they opened their mouths… well, you know the story. Their words did not help. Their words created more pain, more stress, and more anguish.

Even now, well meaning people keep trying to fix me. Sit in the ashes with me, but please quit using your theological arguments to fix what can’t be fixed. My heart may be, but I am not broken!

I suffered a great loss and dealing with that is different for each person. It is a journey, a path, a road that must be traveled. You cannot make it shorter, but you can surely make it longer, harder, and more difficult.

I know my friends have a need to make things better. And I know you would be more comfortable if my grief or struggling wasn’t so evident.

But think of the alternative… Wouldn’t you rather me engage God and wrestle my way back to a stronger, deeper faith than ever before? Wouldn’t you rather me limp with God than not walk at all?

2. This is so important: See what was written above!

Please don’t take this wrong. Please don’t see this as being just about me.

It’s not.

It is, however, about every lost soul who wanders hurt and lonely in the darkness wondering why God has disappeared…

Give us enough time and we’ll find our way again.

God is patient and you should be too.

“Therefore I will not keep silent;
I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. (Job 7:11 NIV)

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Les Ferguson, Jr.