How was I supposed to know?
Perhaps they could wear signs. Cautionary words are always helpful.
Warning! Traumatic life event in progress!
That should do it. Now, there’ll be no untimely jests—no teasing sales pitches—no words to regret, as my friend walks away minutes from now. Give me a heads up; I’ll take it from there.
But, life’s not like that, is it?
No signs. No colored lights—green, yellow, and red—to keep us out of the danger zone. We’re on our own.
Everything—every single thing—we have learned of following Him, has been to prepare us for the relational interactions we will have on every day of the time we have on this earth.
Love God. Love people.
Doing the first teaches us to do the second. More than that, choosing to fulfill the former gives us no option but to fulfill the latter.
Love is kind. (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Always—Love is kind.
The young man came in a few days ago, with his sweet wife and well-mannered children. I have known him for many years now, a relationship developed through his pursuit of becoming a musician. He was a boy when first I sold him a guitar.
That was several instruments and many additional accessories ago. On this day, I would break the news that our business relationship of many years is about to end. I didn’t like doing it, but I owed it to him.
As others have done, he reacted strongly, but perhaps, a bit more emotionally than I expected. The face that turned to me suddenly was covered with sadness, his eyes almost grief-stricken.
Almost without thinking, I reminded him that, as with all of my life, I trusted a God who had proven Himself trustworthy. For some reason, it seemed important to me to reiterate this truth I am convinced of.
“God didn’t bring us here just to walk away from us. He’s still got good things ahead. Good things.”
A short time later, as he and his family walked out the door, he stuck out his big, strong hand and held my slender one in that familiar strong, almost painful, grip. It’s happened many times before. Then, smiling at me, he walked out with his family, not saying another word.
If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought he was afraid to say anything else because he didn’t want tears to come. No. That couldn’t have been it.
I was busy with another customer when he came back the next day. Maybe, it was a good thing. He asked the Lovely Lady to give me a message.
It seems he had received news on the previous day, right before I had seen him, that a young friend had died a horrible death. He was overwhelmed.
He told the Lovely Lady to relay to me the message that the words I had said on that afternoon had been exactly what he and his wife needed. Exactly the message that would give comfort and hope, not regarding my temporary inconvenience, but for the very real pain they were already experiencing. They had left my store that day with renewed hope—renewed courage.
Even since that day, the number of folks who have shared their pain at losing loved ones has multiplied. A lady whose father died and left her with no opportunity to attain closure of a tragic situation. A man who doesn’t know how to comfort his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, less than a month ago. The father whose son died suddenly. The grandfather who will never go horseback riding with his grandson again.
The list goes on. And on. And on.
And suddenly it occurs to me—we don’t need the warning signs I wished for. No words of explanation are ever necessary for us to know who needs help.
We are all members of a fallen race. Every one of us carries our pain around inside. No one escapes the pain. It is our birthright.
We all need help. And, kind words.
And yet, we who carry this pain and horror inside have been called to be ministers of healing and ministers of grace. It is who we must be.
Comfort ye. Comfort ye my people. (Isaiah 40:1) God said the words to Isaiah centuries before our Savior came. The message he carried was of comfort and hope.
And, what a hope!
At the end of your waiting on God, you will regain your strength and your resolve. You who are now weary and defeated will rise up on wings of eagles. (Isaiah 40:30,31)
We who follow Jesus carry the same message.
Perhaps, it’s time for us to deliver it.
We already know who the message is for.
Say the words.
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
(2 Corinthians 1:4 ~ NLT)
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
(Francis of Assisi ~ Catholic Friar ~ 1181-1226)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.