After sitting in a coffee shop for an hour, I stood up to refill my drink and discovered our Pastor's wife sitting across the room. We were so far from home it surprised each of us to see one another! We laughed, explained why we were there, and then engaged in a brief conversation. I had no intention of burdening her with my struggles, but just as we were about to say good-bye I blurted out, "Please pray for me!" I gave a thirty-second explanation, she spoke some words of encouragement, and then reached into her bag and pulled out a well-worn book - Streams in the Desert. She opened to the page she had read earlier that morning and read it to me, right there in the middle of the room, and the words refreshed me like cold water in the dry throat of a thirsty man.
A Divine appointment - with a willing participant and an incredibly grateful recipient.
As I drove home, I remembered that we own the same book, so I pulled it off the shelf as soon as I walked into the house. I did not have time to read it until this afternoon, and after flipping through a few pages I found an entry that made me smile because it described our coffee shop interaction perfectly.
If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
II Corinthians 1:6,7
Are there not some in your circle to whom you naturally betake yourself in times of trial and sorrow? They always seem to speak the right word, to give the very counsel you are longing for; you do not realize, however, the cost which they had to pay ere they became so skillful in binding up the gaping wounds and drying tears.
But if you were to investigate their past history you would find that they have suffered more than most. They have watched the slow untwisting of some silver cord on which the lamp of life hung. They have seen the golden bowl of joy dashed to their feet, and its contents spilt. They have stood by ebbing tides, and drooping gourds, and noon sunsets; but all this has been necessary to make them the nurses, the physicians, the priests of men.
The boxes that come from foreign climes are clumsy enough; but they contain spices which scent the air with the fragrance of the Orient. So suffering is rough and hard to bear; but it hides beneath it discipline, education, possibilities, which not only leave us nobler, but perfect us to help others.
Do not fret, or set your teeth, or wait doggedly for the suffering to pass; but get out of it all you can, both for yourself and for your service to your generation, according to the will of God.
Thank You, Lord, for meeting my need so perfectly through the encouraging words and comfort of a sister in Christ.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11
A person finds joy in giving an apt reply - and how delightful is a timely word! Proverbs 15:23