The sweetness of silence


A picture speaks a thousand words when words aren’t even needed.

In spite of the tragedy that struck our family, I can recall a sweet memory. It involves one of the younger members of our family. God bless him.  Everyone had gathered at our place except this young man. I was walking in the back yard, seeking to be alone where I could cry without the pressure of prying eyes observing my every move.

I heard someone approaching. I turned around to see him walking slowly towards me. He was looking down; only glancing up in my direction once or twice. He was wiping his eyes. As he got closer I could hear him sniffling. Closing in, this huge hunk of a guy grabbed me and squeezed me tightly, his head pressing against my neck. His warmth caressed my aching heart.

Not a word was spoken, but eventually he released his grip . . . and I could breathe again. We sat down on the grass facing each other. Still, no words were spoken, just a pattern of soft sniffles. Finally he broke the silence by asking a question or making a comment, I don’t remember which. But I remember these moments we spent quietly in shared grief. No lofty words were necessary. In fact, this precious shared silence with someone who deeply loves me and loved my son, was enough.

This young man had no idea at that moment, that he was the hands, arms and tender heart of Jesus “with skin on” . . . just for me. He didn’t have the perfect phrase on the tip of his tongue to ease my burden of pain. Instead, he came boldly and unafraid  into my space, and with transparent emotions, enveloped me in a giant hug. No more was needed and I will always cherish his act of kindness and love this memory has given me.

I am reminded of a book I read, Just Like Jesus, by Max Lucado:  “Oh, the power of a godly touch. Haven’t you known it? The doctor who treated you, or the teacher who dried your tears? Was there a hand holding yours at a funeral? Another on your shoulder during a trial? A handshake of welcome at a new job? A pastoral prayer for healing?  Haven’t we known the power of a godly touch?”

We fear saying the wrong thing or using the wrong tone or acting the wrong way. So rather than do it incorrectly, often we resort to doing nothing at all.

Aren’t we glad Jesus didn’t make the same mistake? If your fear of doing the wrong thing prevents you from doing anything, keep in mind the perspective of the lepers of the world.  They aren’t picky. They aren’t finicky. They’re just lonely. They are yearning for a godly touch. Jesus reached out and touched the untouchables of the world.  Will you do the same?”

If you ever feel uncomfortable and uncertain about what to say at a difficult time, remember these words from Max, reminding us that Jesus got up close while He walked this earth.  Our Creator, who flung stars into the night sky and keeps the heavens humming in perfect orbit, was not so heavenly minded that He could not get down and earthly, touching a leper or listening to a mother’s concerns or holding a child while planting kisses on each sweet cheek before she’d wiggle off His lap to run and play.

This same Creator promises to wipe away all tears from our eyes. He will touch us, love us, give hugs and be our Best Friend for eternity. I am drawn to a God like that. Aren’t you?

The Sovereign Lord will destroy death forever! He will wipe away the tears from everyone’s eyes and take away the disgrace his people have suffered throughout the world. The Lord himself has spoken.  Isaiah 25:8, GNT



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