Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Cor 1:3-4)
One of the best gifts you can give your co-workers or customers this Christmas season is the gift of your presence quietly listening to their story. There are people around you who live without hope; people who are filled with feelings of guilt, loneliness, shame and unworthiness. Before they will grasp the wonder of the hope of Christmas, they need a safe place where they can share and process their story.
Imagine the conversation you would have had if you had come alongside a single, visibly pregnant young lady as she travelled from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea. Imagine her telling you her name was Mary and the amazing story of her pregnancy.
I wonder if anybody took the time to listen to the story of a homeless young couple with a newborn baby when they arrived in Egypt? If they had, they would have heard an amazing story of the birth of their child; a story about wise men, angels and shepherds. They would have heard a story of a terrible tragedy as the family escaped from Bethlehem.
Everybody has a story to share. Especially at Christmas time, people are longing to have someone with whom they can share their story.
Listen without an agenda, for people can always tell if you have an agenda. Listen without expecting anything in return for you have everything you need in Christ. Listen to build a bridge of trust from your life into their life. Trust God that he will bring them to a place where they can hope again. Only then can they decide what to place their hope in.
Listen with your heart showing that you care and your respect for them, as a person created in God’s image.
Thank them for having the courage to share their story. When the time comes ask questions that help them choose the next step to move forward. Don’t rob them of their ability to care for themselves by sharing your opinions or your stories.
Offer to pray for them. Very rarely will someone turn down prayer. Pray with expectation, believing that just as God has answered your prayers, God will intervene in their lives. If they need help, be available to help. Silence, listening and availability are just as important as helping.
Your life will be richer for having heard someone share their story.
Your hope will sink deeper into the streams of living water flowing from God’s presence as you listen to someone else’s story.
Father, give me ears to hear how you are at work in the lives of my friends and coworkers. Holy Spirit fill my heart with your love, and joy and peace so that I can share your love as I listen to the stories of the people around me. Amen.
As you prepare for Christmas may your heart overflow with hope!