Sometimes, timing is everything!
We were climbing into a small, questionably unstable boat to cross the Zambezi river when my friend Terry started telling us a story. Terry has many stories, having traveled extensively and been somewhat of an adventurer.
This story however, was ill-timed. As our boat tipped and creaked and our weight drove it lower into the murky water, he launched into a vivid tale of a ferry boat which had sunk there recently. “Unfortunately, only a few survived," he said. "Most drowned or were eaten by crocodiles.” The ladies with us looked horrified and I just smiled. He could have waited till we crossed, or better yet, until we were home safely that evening. But no...he told it as we were setting into the wobbly watercraft.
Another pastor friend of mine used to say, "Encouragement must be encouraging to the person needing it." This is so true. What encourages me may not encourage you or vise versa. I've also learned that, just as with the Zambezi River story, timing plays a major part in encouragement as well.
Whether or not someone is encouraged by your words or actions can simply be a matter of timing. We all know people who are quick to speak--jumping in with a scripture or a super-spiritual piece of advice the moment they hear about a challenge we're facing. If we're in pain or struggling with the confusion surrounding the moment, these words of "encouragement" can actually have the opposite effect.
Proverbs 25:11 says, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." I have found that 90% of the effectiveness of these words is simply, timing. If someone is looking for encouragement or advice, they'll often ask. Facial expressions, that "open" look in the eyes, or an actual verbal request can tell us when someone is ready and willing to be encouraged. Speaking without this may not be wise or helpful. But WITH these things in place, our words can have powerful impact.
Timing often is, everything....