“And we know that in all things
God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Joe Bayly was an outstanding American Christian statesman and author in the twentieth century. Tragically he had three of his sons die. A baby 11 days old after surgery, a five year old from leukemia and an eighteen year old from a sledding accident.
As Joe rode the elevator down from the hospital ward where his dying son was resting a student nurse rode with him. She was obviously uneasy in the presence of the heartbroken father. Unsure of what to say she commented, “Mr. Bayly I do not know what to say.” “You just said it.” responded the grieving father.
Sometimes tragedy is beyond the reach of words and silence is the better way to go. Another time following the death of one son, Bayly commented that if one more person quoted Romans 8:28 to him he might do physical injury to the person.
Certainly we believe the words of our verse today but it takes time for this truth to become meaningful to us in sorrow’s dark hour.
To tell grieving parents that their baby is safe in heaven in Jesus’ loving arms is a true comment. However, all the sorrowful parents want is to have that baby back in their loving arms. Months or even a year later the grieving parents may have the grave marker of their child read, “Safe in Jesus’ care”, but right now all they want is to care for that beautiful child themselves.
What is best for those who are drowning in sorrow is to let them see the tears in your own eyes, to feel the warmth of your physical embrace, to have you confess how sorrowful you are at the disaster, to murmur your lack of understanding as to why it had to happen, then be silent in the presence of the mysterious providence of God.
Job’s comforters did a masterful job of comforting Job while they remained silent for the first week they visited him. However, when they opened their mouths they spoke nonsense and it only served to enhance the misery of the poor man.
Be careful about what you say in the presence of some of life’s most painful mysteries. Always remember that there are times when speaking the truth hurts.