God uses each of us in different ways. Sometimes God uses us to walk beside individuals who have suffered loss (job, loved one, relationship, health, etc.) as a way to help bring about healing. An important part of that healing journey involves weaving scripture throughout the process.
It is important not to promise more than God does through scripture. Emphasizing God’s presence and love are two of the surest things we can count on, especially during times of grief and healing. Healing that has scripture woven into its fabric helps us to be sensitive, compassionate, and theologically sound. Bad theology does not help anyone heal. Scripture can help us avoid saying unhelpful or inaccurate things in those moments when we feel the need to say something, and even encourages us to be “slow to speak and quick to listen” (James 1:19).
Many times not saying anything at all is the best way to help the healing process. Simply being present as a listening ear will create more space for conversation than an open mouth. Elizabeth Johnston Taylor says it well when she says, “we listen foremost in order to hear the other into speech…” (from What Do I Say?).
May we be willing to shut our mouths, open our ears and share in the grief of people’s stories.