Friday, December 01, 2006

The Blessedness of Saying Nothing

Every Advent season as I read and prepare for advent, some special verse becomes lodged in my mind and I cannot dislodge it no matter how hard I try. At this time I realize it may be possible that the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me something and I better “listen up”. This year I looked at Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ. I came on Isaiah 40, talking about God’s comfort to us His people.

I have never contemplated what comfort meant. I attended a local concert in Olivia last night and I asked friends “What does comfort mean to you?” The answers and comments were interesting, revealing that I am not the only one with little, if any, comprehension of what it means.

Isaiah 40:1 says in part: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, and that her sin has been paid for…” At the end of verse 5 of Isaiah 40 it says, “For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

True comfort comes when we know with assurance that “our sin has been paid for.” It’s good that God speaks this comfort to us…it’s good to be reminded that God speaks “tenderly” to us.

We are to comfort our brothers and sisters. We should speak tenderly to one another. When I read 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, I am reminded that God is the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” We must do and demonstrate the comfort of God.

But I wonder, many times do we speak of things we know nothing about? Job had three buddies who speculated and contemplated his situation. In Job 13:1-4, Job expresses his frustration with his buddies’ comments. Job speaks “My eyes have seen all this, my ears have heard and understood it. What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. But I desire to speak to the Almighty and argue my case with God. You however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you.” Then in verse 5 he says, “If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom.” (Check these verses in “The Message” translation!—Ouch!!)

An old pastor by the name of James Stewart defines true comfort as this: “True comfort is a strong bracing, re-enforcing thing—it’s wind to the sailboat, it’s a job to someone without one, it’s the clasp of a friend’s hand in the time of trouble.” And I would add, “it’s a hug when there is nothing more that could be said.”

I wonder if in our urge to comfort, our desire to be there, if many times we say stupid things and do hurtful, insensitive things.

I cannot comfort everyone but Jesus can. I should minister to the hurting world but with wisdom and grace. Sometimes I need to speak, but when and if I do, I should be tender like the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 40.

As I sit here writing, I am listening to the radio and Tom Everson from Chaska comments on the conviction of his son, Grant for the murder of Nancy Everson, Tom’s wife and Grant’s mother. Even if I knew him, what could I say? All I could do is hug him.

Yes, sometimes when we comfort others in trouble, it is “blessedness when we say nothing.” Sometimes only a hug will do. As Job said, “If only you would be altogether silent. For you, that would be wisdom.” Job 13:4. A major league stepping on my toes and I needed it. God help me.

Remember this, there are also times we must speak and act. Please consider 2 Cor. 1:5 “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” Only through Christ, only through Christ…only through Christ. Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jerry, what a timely message, I will be going to Virgil's funeral on Friday, wondering what to say to the family at a time like this. Thanks for your servant spirit,your willingness to use your gifts, your love for the Brothers and your committment to leading the Bible study. We probably won't know this side of Heaven all the results of your efforts, but all glory to Jesus, when you hear Him say, well done!! Rollie