Pacifying Lies and the Sympathizing Truth

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 at 6:55 am

I didn’t expect, when I sat down at her table, that I’d end up hearing all about her current difficulties with school.

I was looking for a place to sit, to read, to wait for the first service to get over.

I didn’t realize that God was at work, engineering divine appointments.

Our conversation was simple enough at first. I asked the usual questions one asks of a student who has just started a new school year. How are classes? Is she settled in yet? What are her favorite parts of school?

But then the levee broke and words came pouring in from every direction, threatening to drown my unprepared mind.

She was overwhelmed. She wasn’t adjusting well. She felt lonely. She’d been made fun of. She didn’t have many friends. Some of her classes were awful. She was grieved by the language the other students used. It was all so different from her old school. She didn’t like it. Not at all.

As the muddy water rushed in, swirling with the debris of a few hard weeks at school, my mind scrambled to put up sandbags against the flood.

“Hang in there. Things will get better. You’ll see.” I wanted to say. Anything to make her feel better, to staunch the hurt she was revealing.

But God, in His wisdom, has been teaching me about loving conversation–and the first rule of loving conversation is silence.

I let her speak. Let the words come. I listened and thought and prayed.

I realized how foolish and insufficient my gut reaction was.

Who says my friend’s situation will get better? Since when was “hanging in there” what she need to do? Will she see?

Those trite phrases, as comfortable as they are to say, offered no solution to her problems, no true hope to get through her difficulties.

They were little more than pacifying lies.

When she wound down her story and shared a Scripture she’d been clinging to, I now knew how to encourage and comfort my friend.

I Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Philippians 4:6-7 says “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

I urged my friend to take her cares to Christ, to take comfort in His care, to allow His peace to guard her mind.

I could not promise my friend that her circumstances would get better. I don’t know that. But I could promise her that God has a better purpose in her trials.

God has a purpose to conform her into the image of Christ.

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
~Romans 8:29 (ESV)

She can look back to before the foundations of time, where God was already purposing HER in His heart, where God was already thinking of her and planning for her.

She can look forward to the end of time, when she will be finally like Christ, when all this earth’s trials will meet their end and the finished product will be revealed.

She can take comfort in the present that God is purposing good things in her suffering. He is making her like Christ.

Things may not grow easier. She may not feel better. But as she fixes her eyes on Christ, He is making her better. As she looks at Christ, God is making her to look like Christ.

When I placed my hand on my friend’s shoulder, when I looked into her eyes and told her that God had a purpose in her struggles, she looked back at me with a new light in her eyes.

Far better than pacifying lies is the Sympathizing Truth.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
~Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV)

It is only in looking to Christ that my friend can find comfort. Only in pointing to Christ that I can be a comforter.

Reader Comments (4):

  1. Barbara H. says:

    Wonderful post, Bekah. Too often those trite phrases come to mind, I think because, as you described so well, we’re overwhelmed and don’t know what to say. How much wiser to listen, to really connect, and then point to Christ.

  2. Bobbi says:

    WONDERFUL post…and so helpful to me…I even linked you into my most recent post! This was a real encouragement.

  3. What Barbara and Bobbi both said.

    I’m so glad you wrote this. It is indeed a good reminder.

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