“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words, no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Psalm 19:1 – 4
All of the earth is constantly proclaiming the glory of God. The wind rustles tree leaves, the sun moves in a consistent, daily, hourly pattern. Time passes at the same speed, without fail. Seasons change, clouds form, rain falls. Even though these things don’t have a true voice, they don’t have words, as we do. Their ACTIONS bring glory to the King.
This should be an example to us – when we don’t have the right words, we should use our actions to glorify Him. Colton Dixon said it best; “When I can’t find the words, to say how much it hurts, You are the healing in my heart…if I had no voice, if I had no tongue, I would dance for You like the rising sun.”
Oftentimes, we as human beings can feel helpless and not know what to say, either in response to an issue or offering a word of comfort or otherwise. But, if I recall correctly, one of the oldest phrases out there is, “Actions speak louder than words.”
A comforting touch can mean more than a comforting word.
An act of service can mean more than a word of advice or support.
I recently had to help a very dear person in my life go through the process of having surgery done on her heart. As I was waiting for her during the procedure, I was reading through Psalms, and the above quoted verse popped out at me. It was perfect timing, of course, given that God is so skilled at providing the right thing at the right time. I was struggling with figuring out how to comfort my very dear human during this scary time. I couldn’t figure out the words to say to provide the comfort she needed. All I could think to speak was, “I love you” before she went into the operating room.
I waited patiently during her procedure. Afterwards, she was still heavily sedated and taken back to her room, where I could finally join her again. I waited anxiously for the doctor to come in and tell me how the procedure went. I kept hearing the nurses throw around the word “unsuccessful” and immediately my mind was racing, trying to figure out how to break this news in a gentle, comforting way.
Eventually, the doctor came in and shared with me that the procedure was indeed, unsuccessful. I sat there, stunned. Yes, there was a plan of future action, and hope was certainly not lost. But in that moment all I could do was sit there and look at this person who meant so much to me, as she laid there half asleep and unaware of the procedure results. I quietly sat there, contemplating how I was going to keep myself AND her held together.
When she finally woke up, the first thing she did was turn her head towards me and ask, “Did I hear him correctly…? It was unsuccessful?” All I could reply, was “Yes” followed by a general summary of what the doctor told me. Pure frustration and defeat crossed her face as she turned away from me and stared at the ceiling. I felt my heart shatter as I struggled to find words of comfort. Everything that was going through my head (“But hey, maybe there’s a bright side…” “Everything happens for a reason…” “At least you know now what ISN’T wrong…” ) were all things that I knew she was fully aware of and would be pointless for me to even attempt to say. Instead, all I could think to do was place my had on her arm and pray. I can only hope that my presence at least offered some comfort, but as soon as I took ACTION, I personally felt peace. I didn’t have to speak…my actions spoke for me.
On the grander scale of life, God calls us to take action for His Kingdom. He calls us to talk the talk and walk the walk. Oftentimes, I feel like we use words as a crutch to avoid taking action. We feel as though if we say something, it’s just as good as doing it. But hey…it’s not. You can’t just SAY you’re going to go brush your teeth so your morning breath disappears. Your morning breath ain’t gonna disappear until those bristles scrub those pearly whites – hate to break it to y’all, but it’s just not happenin’.
One of my favorite – actually, it IS my favorite – songs is “I Won’t Let You Go” by Switchfoot.
“When it feels like surgery, and it burns like third degree, and you wonder ‘What is it worth?’ When your inside’s breaking in, and you feel that ache again, and you wonder ‘What’s giving birth’? When your fear is currency, and you feel that urgency – you want peace, but there’s war in your head. Well maybe that’s where life is born, when all facades are torn. Pain gives birth, to the promise ahead. If you could let the pain of the past go of your soul, none of this is in your control – if you could only let your guard down, if you could learn to trust Me somehow, I swear that I won’t let you go.”
LETTING your guard down. LEARNING to trust. HE WON’T LET YOU GO.
These are all actions – no words necessary.
If the wind, the trees, the sun, the rain, the clouds, seasons, even TIME can glorify God by actions without words – why can’t you?
That's the Book: Habakkuk
I think we need to talk about how to handle bad news. I've sat in a few hospital rooms lately. Again. Friends and family waiting to hear diagnoses, test results and treatment plans. I've talked to people waiting on court decisions, job layoffs, financial crisis and marital tensions. Laws change. People leave. Goodness. You do know in this messed up and dark place we're all going to get bad news at some point? Having a plan for when it comes is critical.
The book of Habakkuk is only three chapters long. In the first chapter, Habakkuk asks God a hard question. WHEN? When are you stopping the horror around us? God answer is to wait. He fully will. God is sending judgment to set right what is wrong.
The second chapter Habakkuk asks another question common to us. WHY? Why are the evil people allowed to overcome God's chosen? God's answer is they won't always. The end game is good.Problem was the time between Habakkuk's question and the promised restoration included a prophecy for great destruction, judgment and heartache. Epic bad news.
Chapter three is a song Habakkuk sings to the Lord. This prophet's response is a gorgeous plan of how to face our hardest days. When I read through this song I saw a good plan of how to handle bad news.
I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled. Habakkuk 3:16
When you get bad news don't be afraid to react. Cry. Yell a Psalm out loud. Call a friend. Pray with all the words- the angry, sad, descriptive, big words. Tell the truth.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us. Habakkuk 3:17a
The waiting. Ugh. Hurts in the tummy. Tightness can't breathe. Waiting. But all the panic, fretting, and worry only makes it worse. The key to getting through bad news is to pause. Patience. My mama says to remember it won't always be this way. Take a walk. Give a hug. Color. Wait patiently.
REJOICE IN THE LORD
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3: 17b -18
Gratitude in everything. It certainly does not take away the sharp pain but thankfulness does make a way forward. It's like breathing through contractions in childbirth. Need a list? Try thanking God for friends, for doctors, for food, for clean water. For grace. Don't let yourself off the task until you can breathe.
KNOW THE SOURCE OF STRENGTH
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:19a
Bad news can shake your emotions. It can drastically change your plans. But it can not remove God. Bad news does not delete heaven. It does not change eternity. He is able to carry you through. The path may be steep but God can make your steps steady. The key to bad news? Don't do it alone.
You are going to get more out of the Bible Project's Read Scripture video than whatever new cat video or pop culture dating news was next on your scroll list. Take the time.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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