In 2 Timothy 1:16-18 we are introduced to a wonderful man of God named Onesiphorus. Last week I took a couple of my blog postings to write about this rather obscure hero of the faith. While the aged Paul was in prison in Rome awaiting execution, Onesiphorus sought him out and in doing so brought the Apostle great refreshment in perhaps the darkest and loneliest time of his life.
What is interesting to note as you read those 3 verses that tell us about these jail-house visits is to notice what is missing. Go find your Bible or pull up a version on-line and read those verses. As you do ask yourself this question, "What was it that Onesiphorus said to Paul in that dark, dingy dungeon that brought him such refreshment?" The answer is that we have no idea! Obviously, they talked but not one word of their conversation can be found in Scripture - not one word.
To me, that is significant. Paul states that Onesiphorus "refreshed" him but we don't know one word that he said. Do you know why? Because the refreshment that Paul received from Onesiphorus didn't come from his words but rather from his presence. In the midst of his darkness and loneliness, the presence of Onesiphorus was what God used to refresh Paul.
Now why is that important? How many times have you heard of someone who was going through a very dark time in their life and you really wanted to contact them and try to encourage them but you didn't for one simple reason - you had no idea what to say to them? It may just be the biggest reason why people who are in the "pit" of life feel so abandoned and so alone. Few people seek them out like Onesiphorus did Paul because they just don't know what to say.
When I first started in ministry 25 years ago I would agonize over this. People in my church would go though dark times and I felt like I had to have just the right words to say. I would drive to their house or to the hospital rehearsing my speech the entire way there. As their pastor I felt like it was my duty to be able to say just the right thing to take the sting out of their pain. I soon learned just the opposite. I soon learned that it wasn't my words that they needed or desired, it was simply my presence.
When I went through my own "pit" experience God gave me an Onesiphorus. His name is Rick (pictured with me above). Rick called me almost every day and over a 6-month period Rick took me out to breakfast once a week. Now here is what is interesting. Over those 6-months Rick and I talked a lot but I cannot really remember one word today that he said (sorry, Rick, I know you are reading this). I'm sure his words were meaningful but the truth is that it wasn't really Rick's words that brought me refreshment when I was going through my dark time, it was his presence that God used to minister to me in ways that still impact me today.
Onesiphorus brought refreshment to Paul and we don't know what he said. His presence made the difference. Rick brought refreshment to me and I can't remember one word that he said. His presence made the difference. You can bring refreshment to someone this week who is in the pit and going through a dark time in their life. Don't worry about what to say. Your presence will speak volumes to them!