by Holly Scheer
There are defining moments that stick with us, both of the good and bad variety. When things go well we can share our joy with others. When things go sour we can share our heartache.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say when things are bad. Sometimes the words aren’t there. Sometimes you try to say something and it comes out wrong. The feeling of causing additional pain to someone already suffering is terrible.
What do you say when a situation defies easy platitudes? What do you say when there’s no quick comforting verse on the tip of your tongue, when you can’t think of a hymn that applies?
I know that I struggle with words. I tell people that I’m praying for them, keeping them in my prayers, and I do. Sometimes I don’t know what else to say. Sometimes it feels like there is nothing else to say.
Even if you don’t have comforting words please try to say something when you have a friend or family member going through a really hard time. You don’t have to have the answers. Sometimes the offer of prayer or “Lord have mercy” or simply “I am sorry” is all that needs to be said. Don’t be silent in fear of saying the wrong thing.
We are having some hard days in our family right now. A dear family member is sick with cancer and it aches seeing a life so impacted. It stinks being so far away. We also have a child who struggles with a chronic health issue and recently had a really scary event.
Many people have had comforting words. Some of the most comforting have surprised me. Someone told me they couldn’t imagine and didn’t know what to say, and had spent a bunch of time trying to think of something and come up with nothing more than, “I’m sorry.” For some reason hearing that really stuck with me.
Sometimes there isn’t anything else to say. Sometimes there aren’t anecdotes that help. No plucky quips about how fast things will be better.
We are blessed as Lutherans. Every frightening event, untimely illness, every death that rocks us- we are blessed. We don’t walk this road alone. Even when those around us are at a loss for words, we are not alone. We have perfect comfort in the certainty of the grace of our Lord. We have the joy of baptism and knowing that we are held close in the arms of our Savior. We commune with all the host of Heaven in the Divine Service.
We don’t need to find the perfect words or actions. Most times in this fallen world there isn’t a perfect way to help those around us. We cling to our Lord and His true peace.