In my prayers for several friends who have struggled for years and years with inability to conceive, I have often found myself at a loss as to how to approach the situation (in prayer and attempts to encourage these individuals). This morning, I heard a Focus on the Family discussion on infertility, and was surprised to hear that much of what people say in these situations is not only unhelpful, but often extremely hurtful.
We want to point people to God, to His faithfulness, and to His sovereignty. But if we are unwilling to sit in silence beside them, we are worse than Job’s “friends”. It is easy for us who are not struggling with an issue to point out the need to turn to the Lord. But this actually draws attention to an apparent “lack of faith” in individuals who already feel disenfranchised. It is worse than one-upping, because it simultaneously points to a problem the speaker doesn’t have and to a solution the hearer seemingly can’t access. It is the ultimate self-righteousness.
We must suffer beside someone in silence before we earn the right to lecture him or her with solutions that cost us nothing. I am glad I heard the words of these women. I hope they will remind me, in the future, to empathize before I attempt to teach a lesson I haven’t had to learn.