Silent Presence

Published on Feb 13th, 2013 by Pastor Ed Hlad | 0

I have a number of friends who are so smooth.  They just seem to know what to say and when to say it.  The words just flow out of their mouths in such a way that when they walk away from people the people consider themselves lucky to have spoken with my friends (at least that is how I picture them responding).  I am pretty much the opposite.  When I find myself in emotionally charged situations I often start sentences that have no logical conclusion except to mumble some kind of unexplainable phrase, or I back myself into such a verbal corner that I stutter a few times, and then I ask these poor folks if they know what I mean.  I thank God, all the time, for polite people who assure me that of course, they know exactly what I mean (even though they probably are thinking…”This guy makes his living with words?”).  It is not that I am not emotionally invested in the situation, the opposite is true. It is that putting of those emotions into coherent sentences that is not my spiritual gift.  Maybe you’re more like me than like my friends.  What are we to do?  Should we stop visiting our friends in the hospital?  Do we stop asking how people are doing when we know that things are not going well?  Should we isolate ourselves from all ministry opportunities because of our shortcomings in the “smooth” department?  Of course not.  That would be one of the most self centered things we could do.  It would be a slap in the face of God who promises to use our feeble attempts at ministry for his glory.  After all, even the smoothest ministry is feeble when it compares to the awesomeness of God.

 

We can work on improving.  I found great encouragement from the book of Job.  Job, as you know, was in the midst of getting pounded.  Listen to Job 2:11-13, “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place.  Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.  They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him.  And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him.  And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven.  And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.”

 

There is so much to learn from this passage about ministering and none of it has to do with speaking!  In fact, when these friends finally did speak they stopped ministering.  Can I just list a few things we can learn and then you can meditate on finding your own?

 

1)  They heard – are you listening for what is going on in your friend’s lives?

2)  They came – our presence can be huge in someone’s life.  The willingness to walk with them through tough times is a ministry in itself.

3)  They ministered in community – Do you have a commitment with friends to minister?

4)  They first made a commitment to show sympathy and comfort.  Often our first response is to try and fix the problems.  Fixing is God’s job.

5)  They wept for Job, and I would imagine they wept with Job.  Yes, God will work all things for good and he will make all things right, but Job has been through a horrible experience. Crying with Job shows hearts that are united.  Crying does not have to mean that you are upset with God.

6)  They prayed for him and pled for him before God.

7)  They sat with him, knew his suffering, and shared their lives with him.

 

I believe that eventually we will need to speak.  It just not has to be our first option.  If we have truly have been invested in this person’s life ,and if we desire to speak the words of God to our friend, then God will use those words to minister to our friend…smooth or not.  Job’s friends did a great job of sharing their lives with Job, and we can learn much from them.  When they began to speak, though, they spoke what they believed God would have said rather than listening to what God was saying.  I will never be smooth, but I can learn to be quiet. When God does call me to speak, it should be with words that he has given me.

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