When Words Fail Us

This post originally appeared on The COURAGEOUS & KIND Project blog.


“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
James 5:16b

A friend of mine recently went through a hard season of loss and grief. There weren’t words to comfort her heartache and the feelings of disappointment with the Lord. What was a season of joy, happiness, and excitement quickly became a season of loss, disappointment, and grief. What do you say to that? How can we possibly find the right words?

Everything I thought to say suddenly felt impersonal. I knew she needed words of faith and encouragement, but it was hard to find the right ones. I knew God was good. I knew He had been good to me during my deepest and darkest hurts and I wanted to share that with her. I knew she was going to make it through this and that God would be her answer.

I was sure of His promises in the Bible and I had the Scripture, God’s own Words, to back it up. I had [have] faith in God and had experienced everything I wanted to say. God had been so faithful to heal my broken heart. He had been the Source of my comfort, hope, healing, peace, and forgiveness as the days went on. But how do I tell her that?

For right now, God felt impersonal to her. Why, God? Why would you allow her joy to turn into such heartache? Why would you take away a gift that you so greatly gave her? Why, Lord? How could you?

Our attempts at making sense of it all left us emptier than when we started. Pseudo-comforting phrases like time heals all wounds, everything happens for a reason,  they’re looking down from heaven, and God doesn’t give you more than you can handle stung. Of course they were said with well meaning, but felt impersonal and almost harsh.

As I begged God for words to say, nothing came. I found a faint whisper of the Holy Spirit in my heart say, “Not why, but who.” Tears rolled down my cheeks as reality quickly surfaced: the “why” may never get answered. We may never ever know why this happened to my friend. We may never understand or even begin to make sense of why God allowed something so tragic.

The Lord has taught me over and over again throughout my heartaches, trials, and disappointments that He is a faithful God and He is who He claims to be in the Bible. He is our ultimate Source of comfort and hope (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). He promises eternal life (John 3:16-17). He will work everything out for good according to His purpose(Romans 8:28). God hears our prayers (Jeremiah 29:12).  His ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). God has our best at heart (Jeremiah 29:11).

When our words don’t measure up, I think we pray.  We don’t always need to have words to say. Sometimes we simply need to be there. We need to acknowledge the pain and mourn. We don’t need to try to make it better. We simply need to use our gift of prayer as Christians.

Through the Holy Spirit, prayer is our direct access to God where we can be honest with Him. (Jesus Christ gave us this access to the Lord when He died on the cross (Hebrews 10:19-22)). God is the Creator of the Universe and the Source of all comfort in hope and healing. God can handle our biggest upsets, painful hurts, and deepest disappointments. He is big enough and strong enough to hear how unfair or mean He may feel. He is our heavenly Father who loves us and cares for us, just as He loves and cares for my friend in her hurt.

So what did I do? I prayed for her. I sent her some 3x5 cards with scriptures that were comforting to me when my heart ached with grief. I checked on her and asked if there was anything I could do.

Was it enough? I sure hope so. I wanted to gently and kindly share God’s love by encouraging and loving her as a friend could. I couldn’t change things, nor could I make them better, but I could be a listening ear and a dose of gentle compassion and love.

What about you? What things have been most comforting during your time of loss? Please share as we work to build a community of God’s love.


“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” Hebrews 10:19-23 (NLT)

“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16b (NLT)