I sometimes wish that I had the words to make things better.
I don’t always know what to say to parents who have just lost a child, or to a friend who just learned that he/she has cancer. I remember standing in a long line in a gymnasium, several years ago, wondering what I was going to say when it was my turn to speak with a mother whose son had been killed in Afghanistan. I’ve heard Christians try to comfort others with the words: “God will never give you more than you can bear.” Many people who came to offer their support after my mother died talked about how “good” my Mom looked as she was lying in her casket.
I sometimes wish that I had the words to make things better; but, when it all boils down, I know that I can’t fix everything by sprinkling some “magic fairy dust” from my lips.
In this week’s message, “Be Real!”, we meet a false prophet named Hananiah who spoke to God’s people during an incredibly difficult time. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had invaded the land of Judah and had scorched the earth with fire. Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed homes, uprooted families, and carried people away as slaves. And, when the false prophet Hananiah speaks, I can almost hear him say: “Don’t worry! Just relax! God’s going to make things better before you know it! It’s always darkest before the dawn!”
I sometimes wish that I had the words to make things better – and I’m sure that you feel the same way. It’s not easy to sit down and spend time with people who are grieving, or to talk with teenagers who are being bullied. It’s not easy to talk with parents whose kids are being consumed by opioids, with people who don’t have a place to call a home, with people who are struggling with a mental illness, or with people who are being abused in their own homes.
When God calls people to prayer and to the embracing of Christ’s Great Commission, God sends people into dark, scary places. And it’s not easy to remain “real” and “authentic” on the front lines of ministry because it’s not comfortable and because we don’t always have the words that we need to make things better.
And yet, as we learn to move past unhelpful platitudes and shallow statements that we have created to make ourselves feel better, we become open to “real connections” and “real relationships.” Christ journeys with us. God opens doors. The Holy Spirit even puts words into our mouths!
It’s not easy to be real and authentic. It’s not easy to admit that we don’t have words that can make difficult situations better. But, as we struggle to be both real and authentic, we find ourselves speaking God’s word in powerful ways. “Be Real!” Be a man or woman of faith who’s not afraid to simply “be present” during difficult times; because, when you do that, God will use you in incredible ways to pierce darkness with His own brilliant light!