Years ago, I went to a youth conference as an adult counselor. At the conference was a singer whose voice transported us to heaven. He attended as an adult counselor as well as his “job” as worship leader for the conference. He was living a sad story. A young man, with a wife and young children, he was battling cancer and the outcome wasn’t looking good.
One afternoon I met him at a drinking fountain. I told him how much I admired him for continuing his work, even through his circumstances.
He wheeled on me, and with eyes blazing, he cried, “What am I supposed to do? Lay down and die?”
I stepped back in surprise. I meant to compliment him, not insult him.
He walked away, I got my drink of water, and nursed my hurt.
Ever since, I have wished I would have responded to him. I would have said, “Well, in my experience, that is exactly what some people do. When someone says something to you, meant to encourage, you should be gracious. You don’t know where they are coming from. They might be living with a boatload of pain and your attitude of keeping on just might be the encouragement they need to see.”
But I didn’t say it. I never had the opportunity to talk with the singer again. It has bothered me off and on over the years. I so wish I had said it. It wasn’t that I didn’t intend to say it, it was one of those things I thought of afterward.
A Calling For All
Over the years I have wondered why it has bothered me so much. Why didn’t it just fade into the background of the past and get shrouded with forgetfulness?
There wasn’t anything I could do about it. Perhaps forgiveness on my part was an issue. But I had no kind of relationship with the man. I would never see him again.
How many times does that happen to us? We mean well, but our efforts stop short.
I think I missed an opportunity to make a difference in the singer’s life. He was obviously struggling with his situation, yet he still called out encouragement to teenagers from the stage. But he must have lived with despair in his own life.
Maybe if I had spoken those words to him (that I thought of later), it would have shown him that his life still had purpose, even if it looked limited. That God had not forgotten him.
Taking every chance to speak encouragement into the lives of others is a high calling. And one that we can all do.
“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” (Romans 1:11-12 NKJV).