Listening will speak more deeply to survivors than any words you might say.
We live in a world where tragedies come—and come far too often. The world is broken, and tragic moments remind us of that reality. However, it’s unusual to know someone who is on the front page of the news for such tragedy.
But that’s the case right now. A few hours ago, news broke of a bus crash—a church bus crash, no less. And the pastor of that church is Brad McLean, who I (Ed) had the privilege of spending some time with in New Braunfels a couple of years ago, and again last year in Nashville.
He’s ministering in the midst of a crisis. And moments like these are when Christians have to learn to listen more because answers are not so easy to give. When catastrophe strikes, we want to know what we can do to help. We want to know what we can say that will bring comfort to those who are hurting.
That’s certainly what Pastor Brad is doing right now, but it reminds us all of what we should be doing.
Words can help ease distress and even spark hope in those in need. However, the truth of the matter is, there are no ‘golden’ words or phrases we can share that will make the pain go away. There’s nothing we can say that will make everything better. That’s why we often feel helpless when disaster strikes. Because our words can’t solve the problem, we are prone to freeze up, say things we normally wouldn’t, or sidestep difficult conversations.
As a result, we often fall into the trap of relying on platitudes that aren’t helpful and can even be harmful for someone going through a trauma. Sometimes, we rely on platitudes because it helps us, the helper, feel less anxious. We toss out a cliché to break the unbearable weight of silence. At other times, we …