Macduff asked Malcom in Macbeth (Act IV, Scene 3) how things were going in Scotland, Malcom replied; “Each new morn new widow’s howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows strike heaven on the face…” In comparison, it would be like an American delegate asking a Syrian delegate how are things going. No doubt nothing but pure misery. There are times when we ask a person how is it going we have a feeling it will be nothing but bad news. So we don’t ask.
Recently a friend and I had coffee. I had not seen him in 5 years. I first met him when he was sleeping behind a 7-11 and in a homeless shelter. After many visits with him behind that 7-11 building, he agreed that he needed a recovery (Heroin, Alcohol, Rx abuse) program. He wanted me to be his ‘counselor’, but that was not to be. Instead I became a friend. He has now been ‘clean’ for 2 years. He has suffered throat cancer, unemployment and worse of all, in his words, no friends. He dreaded the night because of the loneliness and the day brought him “unpleasant” sojourns of people and places. I had no idea this was going on in his life until I asked. After a couple hour visit, he hugged me and said thank you for being available for him. I said anytime and he walked on his way home. What I walked away with from our visit was his “fond” remembrance of us sharing of God’s word so many years ago. He mentioned Psalm 91:3-4 He held this close to him all this time;
“Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler”
His humility was contagious. I wept praising God that afternoon in joy. Yes, we all can share in that exuberance when, in all humbleness, we ask a person how they are doing without fearing it may cost us something. In Galatians 6 Paul wrote; “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.”
One of my favorite songs is John Prine’s ballad, “Hello in There”. This verse really hit home with me the other day;
“You know that old trees just grow stronger,
And old rivers grow wilder every day.
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, “hello in there, hello.”
It’s not only the old. It is all ages. Is there a lack of young people in church or few friends in your life? Say “Hello in there” to someone and see what happens.