As he entered the hall for the funeral,
the pastor was having a bad day himself.
He saw the widow up ahead,
how she looked overcome with grief,
and humanly he wanted to avoid her and
just go get the memorial service over with and go home.
But he knew it was his calling and duty so he searched his brain trying to come up with something comforting to say. He looked at her tears and his mind was a blank. Finally to break the silence, all he could say was … “It’s OK.”
What a pathetic thing to say, he thought as he sat down and waited to speak for the ceremony. That made him feel even worse.
While speaking from upfront during the service, he noticed that the widow was energized and smiling. His curiosity made him eager to go to her after the ceremony and ask her what happened.
Exulting and beaming, she told him, “I thought I had done something so horribly wrong that caused my husband to die. I thought God must be punishing me. For weeks I’ve been beseeching God in prayer, ‘Am I OK with you?'”
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This pastor thought he had been so inept and utterly failed the widow. Humanly it looked like he said something utterly inadequate for the monumental occasion! Instead God inspired him to say exactly what the widow needed to hear.
When I heard the pastor tell this story, I remember thinking, great, you must be a man of God because
I have never once said just the right words
But then I had to ask myself: How do I know?
The times when somebody said just the right words that motivated me or turned me around, they didn’t know how much they had helped me.
In 1979 an article in our international church newspaper had one sentence buried in the middle, probably expressing utter frustration over a current issue, “I wish everybody who didn’t want to be here would leave and those who do would come.” In my mind that sentence was God speaking directly to me to move there. It was as clear as if I heard His actual voice. Subsequent events in the next few weeks showed God was with me in making the move. The writer never knew how profoundly his sentence changed the course of my life!
This should give us hope for the time coming when God tells us He wants us to witness on His behalf, but “do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12).
God named Cyrus about 150 years before he was born and then at the right time “stirred up the spirit of Cyrus” so that he made the decree God wanted for that very time (Ezra 1:1). It is thought that perhaps God used the elderly Daniel to show Cyrus what prophecy said it was time for him to do. Proverbs says God turns kings like a river (Prov. 25:1).
This should give us hope for loved ones that God knows exactly what words of gold in a setting of silver (Prov. 25:11) they need to hear, and can inspire somebody to say them at just the right time they will be receptive.
If we are asking God to guide us and our words
it just might be us whom God uses to give them just the encouraging words they need. After all, He can speak through jackasses! (Num. 22:28). The donkey was not too stubborn to insist on his way instead of letting God use him as an instrument!
And what about us for
The times we need encouraging words
We see prophecy marching on toward its initial horribleness. God has it all under control. He declared the end from the beginning and will do all His pleasure (Isa. 46:10, 41:22).
We should be studying His Bible daily while asking Him prayerfully to guide what we study to provide what we need to hear. God has encouraging words daily for us if we are humble to receive them.