"Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love."
Lamentations 3:32 (NIV)
We all know how powerful words can impact us. Words can cut us deeper and have greater wounds than any knife. Words can also build us up so we feel we are flying on a cloud. During the past few weeks, I've spent a great deal of time thinking about the impact of words. As I listen to people discuss situations, both at home and at work, I think about the meaning behind the words that are being shared. During my time of reflection, I thought about what types of words I was hearing - and many of them felt as if they were words of instruction
This reflection took me to my dad. He was a great man filled with joy, love, and faith. His words, whether written or spoken, were always truthful. Sometimes they were meant for comfort. Sometimes they were meant for instruction. Yet, always they were filled with the truth. As we were growing up, many times the truthful instruction could be painful. My parents were more strict than others. Each time I embarked on asking to do something that was out of our family's scope, it was met with the same answer - NO. After being disappointed by not being able to do what others were doing, I just stopped asking. It wasn't worth the disappointment.
Of course, there were also the times when Daddy had no problem sharing truthful instruction, especially if I did something wrong. That always was met with a "louder" voice, ensuring I received the message. You get the point. Again, it would make me sad, partly because I disappointed my dad, the other part because the "loud voice" was never a good thing.
Then, I found our verse for today. Certainly as I grew older, I realized that when my dad would come to me with truthful instruction, it was because he cared. That level of caring and love comes with a level passion. Daddy didn't want me to make mistakes like he did. Daddy wanted my life to be good and faith driven. His purpose in doing that was his unfailing love. No matter how bad the deed, he was still there. His love was in His words and deeds.
Sounds a bit like our Heavenly Father, doesn't it? Through His word, He provides us truthful instruction - ensuring that our lives are guided to the path and journey HE wants us to be on. Yes, sometimes, the path we want to take is not the path God has planned for us. Many times, that is when His words may seem louder than usual. Yet, He does this not to make us feel guilty for our sins - remember Jesus took those all away for us. He does that to help us hear the instruction He has for us. Let's face it - somebody needs to tell us the truth and NOBODY does that better than Jesus!!
Words of truthful instruction, regardless of where they come from, can make us "grieve", feel bad, or even get angry. Yet, let us take time when we get those words and maybe, just maybe, we can see that the instruction is coming from a place of unfailing love by the person sharing those words with us. That type of instruction is always a gift.
"Heavenly Father, I ask that you help me to truly listen when you share words of truthful instruction. Let me be reminded that they come from a place of love and caring, and that those words are for my benefit. Take the guilt and anger away and replace it with reflection and hope. In your gracious name I pray, Amen."