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When do CLICHES become REAL?

Sometimes words fail us at life’s most soul-ripping moments. But pat answers can be profound. Can’t they?

When do cliches become real?

Within the past two days, three different friends’ life crises have broken my heart.

  • One friend has left her husband after 18 years of marriage.
  • Another has been suddenly left, with her husband of 21 years calling for a divorce.
  • Still another just learned she has terminal cancer, with her doctor estimating she may have a year to live.
God only knows the horrific histories that brought these beloved friends to such painful points.

What words can possibly bring comfort to dear ones at such times?

Consider these few approaches the best-meaning folks often take.

“Trust the Lord.”

Of course, we should.

But do these words offer comfort, when someone is broken?

Surely, they may. Or such a statement may feel like a brush-off or unwelcome instruction. Could this depend upon the context and the nature of the speaker’s relationship with the one who is struggling or sorrowing?

How often do “You really should…” comments add to the load a burdened person is already carrying?

“I’ll pray for you.”

Of course, we will.

But how often do we say such things (or post them on social networking sites), but fail to follow through? When we do that, isn’t it a little like patting someone’s hand before bolting for the nearest exit? Will we make a quick escape or double back later to see how he or she is doing?

If a friend’s son is battling a life-threatening disease, will I pray as intensely for him as I would for my own child?

“May God comfort you.”

Of course, He will.

But what makes this benevolent benediction meaningful? Maybe it’s all about how much we mean it.

When we really know people, and when we have invested heart and hearing in one another’s lives, then maybe such words carry extra purpose and power.

Perhaps that’s when cliches become real.

Colossians 4:6 talks about how grace seasons words for added flavor and strength.

It always comes back to grace. Oh, how we need it.

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