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Proverbial Thought for the Day 1: Speaking from Compassion

Proverbial Thought for the Day 1 – Speaking from Compassion

Today’s Proverb:

“Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound.” (Proverbs 25:20, NLT)

I had just lost a pregnancy unexpectedly. I was four months in and went for an ultrasound to find out the baby’s gender. But instead I received the shocking, horrible news that my baby had passed away. My world was rocked and my heart was broken. Bruised in heart and body, I eventually ventured out from the safety of my home back into the big, wide world. People knew about my loss, and I dreaded some conversations that were sure to come, but I was naïve to people’s strange responses to my hurt.

It stands out clearly in my memory to this very day. Walking out of a church service, an older woman playfully slapped my shoulder and offered these words: “It’ll be fine. You can have another baby.” Stunned, I mumbled a response and kept walking.

What I needed was a conversation that would bring some measure of peace, not a light dismissal of my pain and disappointment. This was definitely a Proverbs 25:20 moment for me. Where was the compassion I craved from my sister in Christ? Why couldn’t she understand my heart?

Looking back, I’ve since learned that many people do not know how to talk to those experiencing heartache or hard times. And I’ve also learned that walking through deep valleys will help us better know what to say to someone who is in one themselves. But if we aren’t speaking from a place of tender compassion, then we should not speak at all.

This proverb shows the uselessness of offering up a cheerful song to someone experiencing heartache. It’s just as thoughtless as taking someone’s coat from them on a cold, blustery day, or pouring vinegar in a wound, bringing stinging pain. 

So what can we learn from this simple proverb? I think we are reminded that in order to be compassionate people, we must put ourselves in the shoes of the one who is hurting and try to feel what they are feeling so that we can truly be a comfort to them. It’s only then that our words will be like a soothing balm rather than unfeeling and unhelpful.

Proverbs is a book full of wisdom, so as we read it let us look for ways we can improve. If you’re one to blurt out something impulsively (like me), slow down and try to digest your words before you speak them. Try to first enter into what the person may be feeling, and then gauge your response based on that. This will help you not lightly dismiss a person’s feelings with pat phrases, but instead offer comfort and encouragement to someone in their time of great need.

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