What to Say
By: Tom Norvell

Vol. 17 No. 13 | March 30, 2015

Sometimes I do not know what to say. I marvel at these words from the man of wisdom: “Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.” (Ecclesiastes 12:9-10, NIV)

He is considered the wisest man who ever lived, so I would not attempt to compete or compare because sometimes I just do not know what to say.

Sometimes when I sit down to write these Notes I don’t down what to say. Words seem far away. Ideas seem unreachable. If you are a regular reader you can probably detect those articles. This is one of those times. The Teacher “also imparted knowledge to the people.” Sometimes I don’t feel like I have much knowledge to impart.

Sometimes I do not know what to say when a mother and father come to me with stories of a son or a daughter who has chosen a life apart from God. I listen to the words of the broken hearts. They ask for guidance. They ask for prayer. I show them as much compassion and kindness as possible, but I do not always know what to say.

Sometimes a couple shares their concerns for their relationship. They once were close; now they are distant. Once they could not be apart; now they have difficulty being in the same room. They once were deeply in love; now they have trouble saying the word. I may share a book. I may offer to schedule a few sessions with them to work through their issues. Sometimes I do not know what to say.

Sometimes a man will tell me how miserable he is with his job. He works long hours to provide for his family, but he hates where he works and he hates some of the things he has to do to keep his job. He never dreamed he would end up in this kind of a situation. He asks me for direction. He pleads with me for help. I pray with him. When he is gone I pray for him again. But I do not have many words for him.

I hear of churches that seem to have lost their way. I hear the distress and sadness in the voices of some of the members. I see the concern and pain in their faces. They ask for prayers. So I pray. They ask for advice. I have none. They ask for direction. I pray for them. They ask for answers. I do not have answers. Sometimes I do not know what to say.

I hear fellow preachers who have grown weary, even more weary than me, and are considering leaving the ministry for something else. I hear men who have left the ministry describe how they wish they could find a way to continue. They ask for ideas. I have none. They ask for suggestions of where they might preach. I have none. Sometimes I do not know what to say.

Sometimes I do not know what to say. Sometimes I do not have words, but tonight I do. Better yet, the Holy Spirit knows what needs to be said.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:26-39, NIV)


© Copyright 2015 Tom Norvell. All rights reserved.