SHARING THE TRUTH
By: Christina Levasheff, Judson’s Mom
“God, silence the lips of the people with all of the answers.” ~ Charlie Peacock
It’s been said of Christians that we shoot our own wounded. Frankly, I have some of those battle scars. It’s not that fellow believers intend to heap on more pain; in fact, quite the opposite, I believe their intentions are good—just misguided.
The challenge for Christians, in wanting to help the hurting, is that we desire to remind people of the hope and joy found in Jesus, but in doing so we can inadvertently become a critical voice, hurting people more. Even in expressing the very real truth of the Gospel we can unintentionally minimize someone’s pain, silence their expression of sorrow, convey distrust in how they’re handling their heartache, appear to judge their faith, or send the message that genuine belief doesn’t leave room for struggle. Therein, we heap coals on the fire of their pain.
I recall a conversation with a friend at church. At the time, Judson was gripped with suffering and we were hardly functioning in our crisis of pain. I was expressing my deep sorrow and struggle over Jud’s debilitating disease and his death sentence. Yet instead of validating the wretchedness of my circumstance, she admonished me, “God won’t give you more than you can handle, he has a purpose, and nothing happens outside his will.” She had all the right answers but hadn’t paused to consider my feelings; what she expressed is true (though some of it out of context), but, in that moment, it was the last thing I needed. Words, no matter how true, could not comfort me, I needed God’s love…through my friend. To be frank, I wanted to slap her silly and yell back at the top of my lungs, “Well, I can’t handle this, God’s will sucks, and you try dealing with the suffering and death of your child!” Her efforts to enlighten the situation felt dismissive, lacking empathy. It caused me more hurt. I also felt judged, as if I was being sub-spiritual in my expression of pain, chastised for struggling, and perceived as having lacked a Biblical perspective. Though her intentions were probably good and she thought she had given me a proper spiritual response, it triggered a schism between my pain, the truth of the Gospel, and my friend.
This is not an isolated experience for me. It is amazing how often one’s genuine struggle in the Christian community can be met with replies that trivialize—words that don’t comfort but instead create a gap. Rather than driving people to the gracious heart of God, we end up driving them away. Truth without love creates dissonance.
We, as the Church, need to embrace the co-mingling of pain and joy, brokenness and faith, hurt and hope. We have often inadequately understood how healthy faith can coexist with deep struggle. The struggle itself does not threaten faith; in fact, it can be the greatest catalyst to genuinely awaken us to God’s grace and truth. In contrast, truth expressed without grace and love is a great threat to faith in the midst of suffering.
When people are hurting, they are looking for love, sensitivity, acceptance and validation…not necessarily answers. Words, no matter how true, can feel empty. The truth of the Gospel is best expressed in actions of love so that it can heal through words.