Earlier this month, the Solid Joys app posted a devotional from Desiring God dating back to thoughts from John Piper from 1983. They are just as good in 2013 as they were thirty years ago. “When Words are Wind:”
Do you think that you can reprove words,
when the speech of a despairing man is wind?
In grief and pain and despair people often say things they otherwise would not say. They paint reality with darker strokes than they will paint it tomorrow when the sun comes up. They sing in minor keys and talk as though that is the only music. They see clouds only and speak as if there were no sky.
They say, “Where is God?” Or: “There is no use to go on.” Or: “Nothing makes any sense.” Or: There’s no hope for me.” Or: “If God were good this couldn’t have happened.”
What shall we do with these words?
Job says that we do not need to reprove them. These words are wind, or literally “for the wind.” They will be quickly blown away. There will come a turn in circumstances and the despairing person will waken from the dark night and regret hasty words.
Therefore, the point is, let us not spend our time and energy reproving such words. They will be blown away of themselves on the wind. One need not clip the leaves in autumn. It is a wasted effort. They will soon blow off of themselves.
O how quickly we are given to defending God, or sometimes the truth, from words that are only for the wind. If we had discernment we could tell the difference between the words with roots and the words blowing in the wind.
There are words with roots in deep error and deep evil. But not all grey words get their color from a black heart. Some are colored mainly by the pain, the despair. What you hear is not the deepest thing within. There is something real within where they come from. But it is temporary—like a passing infection—real, painful, but not the true person.
Let us learn to discern whether the words spoken against us or against God or against the truth are merely for the wind—spoken not from the soul, but from the sore. If they are for the wind, let us wait in silence and not reprove. Restoring the soul not reproving the sore is the aim of our love.
Learning to listen to the soul,