“Then spake Haggai the LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD” (Haggai Chapter 1 verse 13)
I am so glad I was at Holy Trinity, Wester Hailes on Sunday evening past. Rev. Iain Penman was preaching on Psalm 107 and it was quite simply one of the best and most helpful sermons I have heard in my life. It was so life-giving to me myself, but it was also so sensitive and indeed challenging with regard to some of the issues surrounding addictions that face some of the congregation. Iain showed us a pattern that recurs throughout the Psalm: Problem, Prayer, Rescue, Praise; that progression is now lodged in my brain! The sermon will eventually appear on the Holy Trinity website. It could help you or someone you know. Perhaps it would benefit you to read the psalm right now with “Problem, Prayer, Rescue, Praise” in mind.
So I was blessed by the sermon. I was also blessed by people who spoke to me afterwards, including some who have more than a few struggles and difficulties to contend with. In fact they were the first to come up to me. They did so with genuine warmth and affection and also with a real degree of sensitivity: I was moved particularly by the way they spoke to me. Can I be honest with you? They didn’t perhaps say anything that anyone listening in would have considered profound, but what they said was real, full of genuine warmth and was a blessing.
I wonder if there is something for us all to learn from such readiness? Often we shy away from speaking to people because we don’t really know what to say. Perhaps we think we need to say something very profound, or we are scared we will say the wrong thing. When C. S. Lewis was widowed he commented that he really appreciated nervous young students who approached him and very awkwardly, stumblingly and self consciously and non piously expressed their condolences rather than avoiding him and saying nothing.
A simple word can mean a lot. Remember that same truth when it comes to exercising the New Testament gift of prophecy, a gift which as believers we are encouraged to seek by the Apostle Paul. At its simplest that gift is about saying something from God that will strengthen, encourage and comfort. Of course prophecies can sound weighty at times. They can at times also be quite detailed and even quite lengthy. However we can learn a thing or two from the Old Testament prophets here. Sometimes they spoke at great length, but on one occasion the prophet Haggai simply said this as a prophetic word from the Lord to His People: “I am with you.” The people were strengthened and stirred up by that simple word.
Please rid yourself of any notion that you need to be, or need to pretend to be, or at least need to try to sound profound! Sometimes it is hearing the most simple thing, even the most obvious or self-evident truth that one would almost think need not be said that can have the most profound effect on a person or a situation.
Maybe even this very day you will meet someone and you will know that God is wanting you to remind them that He is with them: as simple as that!
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