“To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)

I had only been a Pastor for a few years when I got one of the worst calls of my career. One of my students had a tragic accident that ended his life. Although I was completely heartbroken, I quickly realized that my role was to provide comfort to this hurting family. I was fine with that, but when the family asked me if I would lead their son’s memorial service I got really scared. When I told my Lead Pastor about it, I fully expected him to offer to do it for me, or to give it to one of the more “adult” pastors, but he didn’t. Instead, he simply told me to be there with the family in their pain and then reminded me that God would give me the words. I thought, what words? How could there be any words for a time like this? I felt completely inadequate.

Sure enough, the rest was a blur. The day of the service seemed to happen so fast. After spending almost every waking moment with the family, I barely had time to prepare what I was going to say. All I knew was somehow I was supposed to transition from the pain and sadness of this event to an uplifting gospel message.

Throughout the first part of the service, things went pretty smoothly. I transitioned from worship song to slideshow to people sharing. Things were going well… until the boy’s father got up to share. He planned to share a few prepared words about his boy and then turn it over to me to share the gospel and close the service. As he shared, he got more and more upset. Eventually, the pain was just too much for him to contain and through the sobs and painful tears, he blurted out, “This is just s— It is absolute s—!” And he said it again and again as he finished his speech and handed me the microphone. It took every bit of effort to hold back my shock. I barely had time to think, but all I can say is God gave me the words, even though they were the last words I ever thought I would say… I put my hand on his shoulder, looked him in the eye and said, “You are exactly right, this is s—!” And I actually said the word! The “S” word in church! As I said it, I remember thinking, “What am I doing?” But sure enough, you could have heard a pin drop. And literally, with a word, I was able to capture the pain of over 800 people and lead them to the hope that we can have in Jesus. “This is not the way it is supposed to be…. God didn’t want death… our sin caused it… but Jesus gave his life on the cross to save us from the sin that will kill us!” I couldn’t have planned it better myself. In fact, I’ve done a lot of memorial services since and I can’t think of many that I have felt more used by God than this one. To this day, there is a family still involved in that church who tell me regularly that the moment when I cussed from the pulpit was the moment they realized this Jesus thing was for them.

I didn’t fully realize it, but somehow in that strange, awkward and beautiful moment, I was able to “become weak, that I might win the weak.”

God, thank you for using us in our weakness…  may we learn how we can be all things to all people that we might save some!

Josh Rose
Teaching Pastor

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