My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):
I did it again just the other day. I have this annoying habit of sticking my foot square in my mouth.
Too often the words just rush out before I have really taken the time to think them through. I contacted an old friend and asked him how he was doing. “Horrible,” he said. “No job and no money.” Well, I knew that he was going through nursing school so I asked how school was going. His reply, “I am done, all finished.” Now here is where things went wrong because I was sure that I had read somewhere that there were a shortage of registered nurses and that healthcare is one of those top ten booming fields and is always experiencing a labor shortage. So I said, “Well, congratulations! I am sure a job is right around the corner.” Then I changed the subject. But by then, the conversation was over because my friend had hung up on me and has since not taken any of my phone calls.
I have since learned from a third friend that my glib, dismissive response was not appreciated by our out-of-work friend. His situation is very dire and he may lose his home. Though my intention was to encourage the young man, he had heard something completely different. As I was reading the text for today verse 20 stood out: “Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda, is he who sings songs to a troubled heart.” At first glance taking off a garment to give to a friend on a cold day sounds like the right thing to do for a troubled heart. However the author means something completely different here. It is foolish to take your coat off when its cold and it would be equally as foolish to sing songs to someone who is in the midst of turmoil and chaos.
I remember the day my father died. As the guy from the funeral home took my father’s body out of the hospice facility room he had occupied for the last five days of his life, I broke down emotionally and was consumed with a sense of loss. My stepmother may have thought she was comforting me when she said, “Oh, you’ll be alright, you will be all right.” But that wasn’t comforting at all. Sure, I was a grown man and, to be honest, hadn’t had a relationship of any substance with this man for 25 or 30 years. But that wasn’t the point in that very dark moment for me. I was thinking of all the words that never got to be said and all the happy endings which I had imagined that now would never be. I was grieving unfinished business and unspoken words.
Sometimes I think it is easy as Christians to toss out platitudes and pleasantries when talking to friends and family. Today I hear God saying to me: Stop, really listen, and respond with love and caring.
Thought for the day: Sometimes singing a happy song is the very last thing someone needs to hear!
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