3 Reasons to be SILENT in the Face of Pain.
Minutes after my sweet mother passed away, her pastor called to let me know Mama unexpectedly died from a stroke. I caught the first plane home. A large crowd had gathered in Mama’s living room.
As I was about to enter, I remember thinking, “The last thing I need right now is an avalanche of well-intended, religious words people say in times like these.” What I wanted and needed was to be alone and quiet in Mama’s house.
From that experience and from years of being with people in the emergency room, the funeral home and other places filled with sorrow and grief, I learned the importance and healing power of silence. Henri Nouwen calls silence the place where “the inner fire of God is tended and kept alive.”
People with a healthy faith are comfortable with silence and see its advantages. In some ways, could it be that your silent-presence, a tender-hug, a kiss-on-the-cheek, or a compassionate pat-on-the-back is your greatest gift after all?
How is silence holy?
First, your silence gives God a chance to be heard. No matter how horrible the crisis, our God is always present for his wounded children. Sometimes people can’t hear our Lord’s gentle, quiet voice because it is overpowered by too many competing voices.
Second, your silence puts presence above words. Never forget. Your presence is worth more than your words. When Mama died, my wife, Phyllis, stayed close by my side through it all. Her presence meant more than anything she could have said.
Third, your silence says I am suffering with you. Your silent presence is a clear sign of your compassion. The word com-passion literally means to suffer (passion), with (com). Hurting people flocked to Jesus because he not only suffered for them; he also suffered with them. He shared their pain. In a way, your silence says, like you, I don’t know what to say, I just want you to know I am with you no matter what.
Have you experienced this holy truth? I have.