Thursday, April 17, 2014

Run Over by a Bus and Salt Poured in my Wounds

This is how the Bible describes the happy song sung to you by a well-meaning friend who is trying to cheer you up when your heart is heavy. Proverbs 25:20 says, "Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart." We are most likely to try and sidestep compassion and sing songs to a heavy hearted friend when we speak before we know the whole story. Pro. 18:13 tells us that it is folly and shame to answer before listening. Yesterday, I wrote about how we should respond to strangers in their suffering. Today, I want to think about how we should respond to friends when they are suffering-when their hearts are heavy. The Bible's teaching on this is simple: let them be sad (for a while), and be sad with them. It is important, also, to dig and question and find out why their heart is heavy. Pro. 20:5 says, "The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out." A wise friend will ask the hard questions to find the true cause of her friend's sadness. In our zeal, with the clearness of sight that a happy heart affords, we may be quick to tell our friends that they shouldn't have done that thing that made them sad. That is like telling someone in the hospital, "You shouldn't have let that bus run you over." Most often, in fact all the time, the right thing to do (at least at first) is to put your arm around your friend's shoulder and weep with her. There will be a better time later to share all the sensible and logical reasons why she doesn't need to be sad, but for now, just show compassion and sympathy-even if that's hard. This all applies to a stranger, too, but it is more likely to happen in the context of a friendship when you will be tempted to remind your friend brusquely that God is in control and He has a purpose for this pain. The reason this is more likely to happen in a friendship is that your friend probably knows God and His sovereignty, and also because you want your fun and light hearted friend back. Just remember that timing is everything, and don't attempt even well-intentioned words until you know the whole story. Just be sad with your friend for a while-the friendship is worth it.

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