Things Left Unsaid

Wednesday, January 16, 2019
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Jeremiah 13:15-17 – Hear and give ear; do not be haughty, for the Lord has spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God before he brings darkness, and before your feet stumble on the mountains at twilight; while you look for light, he turns it into gloom and makes it deep darkness. But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock has been taken captive. (NRSV)

A number of years ago, a close family member was diagnosed with cancer, and while at the beginning, the prognosis was good, as so often happens, the cancer came back with a vengeance, and she was given less than a year to live.

She was a child of the fifties, raised to believe that we have to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and soldier on, regardless of the condition of the road in front of us. Her unwillingness to accept defeat was well known within the family, but not all of us shared her optimism. However, we did not want to upset her or dampen her hope.

As her health deteriorated, she was admitted to the hospital, so my wife and I went to visit her. When we entered her room, we could see that the weeks of chemo had taken a toll on her physically, and she was just a shadow of her former self. It was difficult not to express our shock. No amount of mental preparation could have prepared us for this.

On the other hand, her mental state seemed relatively fine, since she believed that with enough willpower, she could conquer any adversary. Throughout the visit, she continued to say that she was going to beat this thing, and we were convinced that in her heart of hearts, she truly believed this. Yet, we were wanting to help make her last days more peaceful by talking about our faith. But we were afraid that broaching the subject would be difficult for her, so we said nothing. A few weeks later, this much-loved family member did pass away. We were left with the regret of what had remained unsaid.

Although the Holy Spirit was present with us in that room, as Jesus promised that He always would be, I was not at a stage of my faith where I was able to listen to Him. I often wonder what would have happened if we had taken the risk and asked her about her understanding of life after death. This question might have broken the awkward silence in the room and started a conversation about Jesus that would have brought her some peace of mind in the last days of her life. What I see now as being important is to be aware of the call of the Holy Spirit acting in us and to understand in what direction He is guiding us. We must be still and listen for God's leading, especially in difficult circumstances.

Today's passage from Jeremiah tells us that we are to listen to the Lord and pay attention to what He says. If we do this, He will guide us through the darkness and into light. If not, we will stumble in the gloom and darkness. We are also told to give glory to the Lord, which means that we are to praise Him openly. We are not to remain silent, but we must be open to praising Him in the presence of others.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray that our hearts may be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and that our minds may be illuminated by His Word. Grant us the wisdom and the courage to reach out to others with the good news of the saving grace that only our Saviour, Jesus Christ, can bring to us. Amen.

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About the author:

John Reeves <>
Coalburn, Nova Scotia, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    May it be so, John.

    Amen John. Thanks for writing today.

    Thank you, John. I had the same experience, and regrets, with my uncle.

    Thank you, John, for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. Blessings.

    John, Thank you for sharing your growth on how different things might be if we have the courage to reach out with our faith to others.

    Dear John,
    How wonderful for you to share this with us today. It’s equally wonderful that our Editor chose to post this today, when many of us are stumbling through the darkness and cold of January!

    Thanks, John for sharing your experience. Someone said, ‘God has forgiven you. You’d be wise to do the same yourself.’ Appreciate your emphasis on speaking up for Jesus but that is as the Spirit of God moves us. Sometimes, whether or not we understand, He wants us to remain silent, having other means of working in the heart. We can trust that guidance.

    Yes John, at critical times we often miss opportunities to witness. The experience you had at your friend’s bedside, makes one wonder what more could have been done at that time. We know the Lord intercedes even in our silence. Your devotional gives much food for thought! Thanks for taking the time to share this today.

    Thank you, John, for sharing your experience and what the Holy Spirit spoke to you about it. Yes, “Been there; done that.”, and now living with the questions and regrets. May your reminder, as you so well expressed it in your words and with scripture, stick with us all, by God’s grace.

    Hi John,
    God hears, feels, knows our hearts and understands dear brother. This is something many, many, of us have faced, and can therefore identify with.
    Praise God, He has more than abundantly given us other opportunities to speak on His behalf and because we know how it felt to have missed an opportunity, and left things unsaid, we now, most certainly welcome and take advantage of other opportunities He gives us.
    Thank you for writing today. God bless you!

    Hi John,
    It always seems hardest to talk “faith” to the ones close to us. We were discussing this with my cousin and her husbands, who are good friends actually. And we both have grandchildren who do not attend church and we commented on the fact that is is so hard to talk to them about it. It Christmas time I sent all of them a “Religious” letter, I did not get one reply, not from the ones who do go to church on a regular basis.
    Strange! I can relate to your devotional today.

    Dear John,
    That is a moving testimony. We can all relate when perhaps we should have done more.
    As years go by, we learn to follow His leading more closely.
    Recently I was asked to go visit an out-of-town gentleman in ICU.
    I wanted to say no, but I agreed. My reluctance stemmed from having to visit my brother there for months. I prayed for strength.
    As I approached ICU, there was his daughter in the hallway whom I had not seen for years.
    She informed me that clergy was with her dad plus 2 siblings. So I asked her how she was and how she was coping. Became obvious why God sent me there. I did not have to go into the ICU. I needed to be there for the daughter.
    I praised God that I was able to go in His strength.
    Bless you and yours in the coming year.

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