Tag Archives: Tragedy

At a Loss for Words

Sometimes I know I need help. It’s often when I am aware that I cannot communicate in an effective way.

  • For many years our congregation was blessed to have someone sign our entire worship service. I did not know how to communicate with the hearing impaired.
  • I have travelled in countries where I did not know the native language. I needed an interpreter.
  • On a few occasions my wife has accompanied me to a medical appointment. As a Registered Nurse she could express and understand things from a medical perspective I did not have.
  • There have been times I’ve been asked to speak, preach or pray at a specific event with which I was unfamiliar or which had certain expectations. I consulted speeches, sermons and prayers by others who knew the expectations and language.

I’ve always been grateful for those who could speak the necessary language.

And it is also true on an even deeper level.There have been difficult and even tragic situations into which I, as a pastor, was called to render support, assistance and comfort.

  • A family with young children had just lost their husband and father to cancer – another their wife and mother – another their young daughter, wife and mother because of a tumor
  • A family of a high school aged son and grandson killed in an auto accident
  • A young husband and wife whose baby was still born
  • A wife and mother whose husband just committed suicide
  • A man who came home to find his son had murdered his wife and daughter

I was, at least initially, at a loss for words, not sure what or how to communicate. I had no language, no words to say. How could I speak into life situations that are so horrific and difficult?

Yet I am grateful that in all these situations, and so many others, God through His Holy Spirit prompted me with what to say and do, or what not to say and do, or even to just be present – always something far more appropriate than I could ever have come up with on my own.

Similarly, I’m sometimes not sure what to say to God, how to pray to Him. Life and situations are simply overwhelming, complicated and confusing. That’s when I am grateful I know Someone who can help.

The Apostle Paul wrote about Him in Romans 8:26-27 — “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

I am moved by how A. B. Simpson responded to these verses. “This is the deep mystery of prayer. This is the delicate divine mechanism which words cannot interpret, and which theology cannot explain, but which the humblest believer knows even when he does not understand…so we can just pour out the fullness of our heart, the burden of our spirit, the sorrow that crushes us, and know that He hears, He loves, He understands, He receives; and He separates from our prayer all that is imperfect, ignorant and wrong, and presents the rest, with the incense of the great High Priest, before the throne on high; and our prayer is heard, accepted and answered in His name.” (1)

So today I have been reminded of just how grateful I am that Jesus left the earth so He could spend His Holy Spirit (John 14). Because of His great love I am never at a loss for words or instructions when I need them most. Thank you Jesus!

(1) As quoted in Streams in the Desert, Oct. 31