Monday, June 22, 2020

What Things Do You Find Difficult to Say?

My wife and I sometimes watch reruns of the long-running “Family Feud” TV game show. For this game, the studio audience is asked a series of questions, and then contestants try to guess which were the most common responses.

One of the questions on a particular episode concerned things people find difficult to say. This wasn’t referring to words hard to pronounce, but phrases people struggle to utter. For instance, three simple words – “I love you” – are very hard to some folks to say. There are probably many reasons for this: fear of making a commitment, reluctance to express inner feelings, previous bad experiences, or maybe, never having heard those words themselves growing up.

Ironically, some of the things people struggle to say consist of only two words. Here’s an example: “I’m sorry.” Even if they are deserved, apologies aren’t always easy to give. Along the same lines, and perhaps even more difficult, is “Forgive me.” Admitting wrongs – and also acknowledging the pain our wrongdoing or wrong-saying might have inflicted – for some is as easy as swallowing a stump.

Then there’s the phrase of ultimate commitment: “I do.” Being willing to walk down an aisle, or even stand before a justice of the peace, to get married can be a daunting prospect. Definitely not one to be taken lightly. Of course, there are some we know for whom “I do” hasn’t been hard to say at all. In fact, they’ve said it multiple times – to multiple people.

Early in life, many of us are introduced to a two-word phrase that can mean a lot, but it too is commonly forgotten: “Thank you.” ”Now, what do you say, Johnny?” For whatever reason, some people find verbalizing those words quite the challenge. 

Personally, I’m fond of these words – both saying them and hearing them. And think of how versatile they are. We can say “thank you” to someone who has just held the door for us, sacked our groceries, given us directions, fixed something broken in our home, presented us with a generous gift, or saved our life.

Which brings to mind what God has done for each of us. Romans 5:8 declares, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In fact, Christ died for us before we became sinners. How many sins had you actually ommitted when He died on the cross about 2,000 years ago?

And yet, another passage tells us, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:22-23). These are truths we shouldn’t gloss over quickly. If we believe what they say, we’ve been freed from the enslavement of sin; have been given the opportunity – and power – to pursuit holy, right living; and have been promised eternal life.

When was the last time you said “thank you” to God for that? Just a couple hours before writing this, I got a haircut and thanked my stylist. Yet what she did took only 15 minutes or so. It required no personal sacrifice or pain on her part, but I still expressed my appreciation to her.

On the cross, Jesus gave everything He had. He withstood pain and suffering none of us can fully imagine or understand. He willingly endured separation from His heavenly Father. Despite His perfect divinity, He encountered undeserved mocking and ridicule without complaint.

Have we told the Lord how thankful we are for what He did? Do we make a point, every day, of saying “thank you” for what is rightly termed his “unspeakable gift”?

For some, the first step in saying “thank you” is being willing to humbly receive the free gift Jesus offers. John 1:12 states, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” And Romans 10:9-11 assures us:
“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘’Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’”

Admitting we have sinned – missed the mark – and have fallen far short of God’s perfect standard is another of the hard things to say. But if we will do what the passage above says, it will launch us on an unforgettable, lifelong adventure. Then we will discover, as Ephesians 3:20 promises, He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

Once we grasp that truth, that precious, unfailing guarantee, we can’t help saying to the Lord, “Thank you!” It won’t be difficult, and we’ll never stop – even when our days on this earth have ended.

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