Encouraging Words

Dr. J. William Harris ~ The Assurances of Silence 

Dr. J. William Harris

The person who experiences loss and begins the painful journey of grief has many questions: Why has this happened to me? What should I do? How will I make it? Where is God in my time of dire need? When a person asks questions, he desires answers. So friends and family members attempt to supply answers as best they can. We make the effort to bring comfort. We assure those who grieve of our prayers and we describe the healing that time and support can bring. We even presume to speak for God. But the questions are never answered fully. Those who hurt complain about that, but the inability to find answers to our questions in the way we wish can have a secret blessing. 

In a book called The Silence of Jesus, James Breech recalls hearing the poet W. H. Auden speak at Princeton University many years ago. The lecture hall was filled to capacity. When the elderly poet began to read his poems, he spoke so softly that no one could understand. Persons near the front began to whisper to others what they thought they heard him say. Soon there was simply a din of noise. Would-be interpreters had drowned out the poet himself. Only when there was complete silence was anyone able to hear. 

Sometimes well-intentioned persons say too much or distort what God would say to the grief-stricken heart. Certainly, we express our love and we share what we have discovered. But lasting assurance comes in the silence when one asks his questions of God and waits. Only then does a person discover that an answer is unnecessary. Union with God (which is really what we need) comes in the silence and the mystery. 




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