It hasn’t been that long since I’ve written about words (https://alisarussell.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/words-are-important/) which are the subject of today’s devotion. (Words that Give Comfort) I spoke of how we needed to be careful with our words, how we needed to not use words that were ugly and demeaning, and how we needed to remember Whose we were before we spoke. All important things to remember when we are also saying words that comfort.
I’m not going to speak directly of words that comfort today though. Instead, I’m going to speak of them in tandem with something else–presence in the midst of life’s difficulties. We are all used to saying or writing words when someone is sick, someone has died, or someone is just going through a bad time. Words such as ‘Call me if you need anything,’ ‘I’m so sorry for your loss,’ and an overwhelming favorite ‘I’ll be praying for you.’ I’m not saying these are bad words. They can be good words if you actually mean what you’re saying especially if you pray like you’ve promised.
But, there is something else that means a lot more if you couple it with words that comfort. Your presence can be just as important as your words, even more so if you are doing life impacting things. It can mean everything to the widow whose son has questions she can’t answer or to the widower who has no idea how to shop for a teenage girl’s dress for prom. It can mean everything to the divorced person who is feeling alone and rejected because their marriage has failed. It can mean everything to the sick person for someone to come and take care of yard work they can no longer do. It could mean everything to the depressed person who just needs someone to listen to them while they cry. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
So, why are Christians not willing to be present in each other’s lives? I think there are a few reasons, none of which are right, but reasons nonetheless.
First, it takes time; it takes time to sit next to someone or do something for someone. In Western culture, especially, we are always running to do the next thing which means we don’t have the time to notice the hurting people in our presence.
Second, we think the staff and the elders of our churches are supposed to be the ones who are present. ‘Isn’t that what we pay them for?’ That would be the staff, but I think I’ve made my point. The leaders of the church certainly have their place in being present in people’s lives, but they are not the only Christians who need to be present.
Third, we are uncomfortable with the idea of being present. We don’t know what to say to someone who is enduring pain we haven’t endured. We don’t know what to do either which is why the phrase, ‘Call me if I can do anything,’ is offered so much. We decide it takes us off the hook if the person never calls. By the way, if you’re wondering if that’s true, it’s not. 🙂
And finally, fourth, we are focused on self and what’s important to us. We might throw in our families and work obligations, but that’s generally it except for maybe around the holidays when we feel guilty about not doing what we should have done over the rest of the year.
My family is fortunate that we are now in a church which does a pretty good job of being present in each other’s lives–through the good times and the bad. We are not perfect, and I am not perfect. I certainly can’t do this on my own. The only way I can do this is through the presence of God in my heart and my life and spending time in His presence each and every day. My prayer for me first and for all of us is that we can pray for the words we need to use and the courage to be present in the lives of the people of this hurting world.
God’s blessings on all of you today!