Have your earned the right to speak?

Yesterday I received an email from a friend that a mutual friend’s 13 year old daughter was killed in a car accident that could have been prevented.  The details of the prevention are not necessary, the fact is a man’s baby is dead, and the heartache my friend is feeling is unimaginable.  As I plan to jump on a plane and attend the memorial for a girl I’ve never met and embrace a friend I haven’t seen in 13 years,  I can’t help but reflect on what I may say to him in his time of need.

It seems that all the standard answers are insufficient.  We’ve all heard them, “She in a better place now”, “Try to remember the good times”, or my personal favorite, “She didn’t suffer”.  As a father of a daughter only a few years younger than his daughter, I can honestly say those responses would just piss me off.   The frustration lies in that I know the intellectual response.  God is in control of all things and he is glorified in all things, both good and bad, but verbalizing these things, is not the right thing to do for certain.

I guess the lesson here is, why do we feel as though we have to say anything at all?  Let’s face it, Christians are well trained in coming to people’s aid in times of need but we are sorely lacking in offering guidance and friendship to people when they are not in crisis.  Don’t get me wrong, we are good friends to people inside our club, but in general we are awful in genuine friendships with people who don’t share our convictions.  As a result, I don’t believe I have earned the right to say anything to my friend.  His daughter is dead and he and his family are grieving the loss of a child and because of a lack of genuine relationship with any believers they do not have the love of Christ to carry them through.  No pithy response, not even preaching the gospel can change that.  We now must trust the Holy Spirit to guide them to the truth and pray that he and his family will seek and understand the true freedom that comes through Jesus.

Ultimately we can personalize this situation and try harder to protect our own children from events like this, but unless you’re a mind reader or lock your child in his or her room, you will eventually fail to provide the necessary protection to your children that will keep them from every dangerous situation.  I will certainly use this as a lesson to teach my children how to recognize dangerous situations, but more important is to realize that this type of situation happens all the time and as a Christian, my obedience to Christ compels me to reach the lost with the gospel.  I know that bad things will always happen, but dealing with these bad things is far easier for the grieving if they have the creator of the universe sitting next the them.

Consider this a lesson for all of us.  Are we reaching people who need Christ or are we busy sitting in church and chatting with our Christian friends, reading Christian books and drinking Christian coffee?  Christianity is not a personal relationship with Jesus.  It is an active relationship with Him.  We should obediently follow the words of Christ who told us to reach the lost with His gospel.  Had that occurred in my friend’s life, the events of Superbowl evening may not have been prevented, but at least he and his family might be able to rest in the truth of Jesus in their time of need.

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