Our friendship stretched over many years although we hadn’t seen each other lately. We were happy to have them visiting once again. Over a meal, we all shared and listened, and little by little we caught up with the latest developments and the well-being of one another.
He was in pain and struggled to deal with the rough edges of the life they had been given. I wasn’t at all surprised; their family life was hard and complex, as well as magical and wonderful. Thomas and I were honored to listen to their story, all while sensing a deep-felt frustration over not being able to ease their pain. We had been praying for them over time, and they had certainly seen the hand of God in many areas of their life, but they were still in the middle of great difficulties and exhausting pain. My heart went out to them.
As they were leaving, we asked them how they felt.
She was happy and peaceful, while he still felt a massive knot of pain and anxiety in his chest. She turned to him and said: “But honey, you would have felt just as bad if you’d stayed at home!” He agreed and we all laughed. It was the joke of the evening: “Come to us! You won’t feel any worse than you would have if you’d stayed home!”
I loved that he didn’t have to camouflage his pain, but that he came just as he was. Sometimes friendship is just that – not removing someone’s pain, but rather willingly walk alongside them as they go through the dark shadows of agony.
Of course, we wanted to make everything better. But it wasn’t up to us. All we could do was to listen and contain.
Over the years, I have watched many people take a step back when faced with someone else’s pain.
It’s too difficult for them to stay involved, to care, to keep investing, to carry hope. I know this story all too well – from the other side.
When Adrian was sick we watched many people remove themselves from us, obviously for many reasons. Sometimes friendships wither and die from natural causes – people move, change jobs, get wrapped up in church activities or coaching little league, or just figure out that their needs are not the same anymore. That’s fine, we all change and sometimes friendships don’t evolve equally. I’m not talking about those changes.
I have seen people remove themselves from difficult situations because the frustration of not being able to change something becomes too much for them to handle. It takes courage to remain hopeful in pitch-black nights. People who are going through depression desperately needs a glimmer of hope. They need to know that even though they are overwhelmed and have lost hope, someone else will carry their hope for them for as long as they need them to.
You can bring hope into someone else’s dark night. If you want to.
It is not a lack of faith to accept a wheelchair to get around or to receive help from a psychiatrist.
Those who are going through severe illness or struggling to come to terms with a handicap, need someone who will pray with them and for them, all while rejoicing for the slightly improved blood tests and the cool, brand-new wheelchair. Their healing won’t be withheld from them because they are taking prescribed medication while they wait. God’s intervention is not limited to spectacular, mold-breaking miracles. Sometimes he uses professionals to heal, and other times he uses the less-than-qualified. Like me. Or you. We want to make sure that we let people develop to the beat of the Father’s heart, not our own.
You can be someone else’s cheerleader. Just sayin’.
She doesn’t pray for her own healing anymore. I wonder if she’s backslidden?
He doesn’t seem to wait on the Lord anymore, he’s doing all these things to get healthy. I mean, drinking juices and doing weird exercises, how does any of that glorify the Lord?
If you’ve said anything remotely similar about anyone, then repent. Now. Seriously. If you sense that someone else is struggling to remain prayerfully hopeful, then hold their arms up. Be their Aaron. Don’t ever allow yourself to judge anyone who’s in pain or bowed down in Spirit. The Father doesn’t condemn them, why would you?
You can be someone’s Aaron. Find your Moses.
Walking with people through dark places makes you aware of the dark.
Sounds logical, right? Nevertheless, I’ve seen people run for the hills when facing someone else’s darkness. I don’t get it. We serve the Father of lights. Where is he needed the most? The darkness is nothing but lack of light. Don’t withhold your light. Ever.
You can shine your light in the darkness, leading others back home.
Life can get messy at times.
The more complex the situation, the messier it gets. Did you know that people with cancer still need to pay their bills? That the paralyzed still have to get their house cleaned? That the father who was in an accident still needs to have his kids picked up from daycare? Did you ever consider how the grieving widow might need help with the garden? Or how the depressed mother could benefit from another coffee date? How about the family that needs a new car where the wheelchair fits in? Is it possible that your faith should get a practical expression?
You can get your hands dirty. It’s about time.
Later that night, I got a text message.
“It was great seeing you again. I did not suffer.”
I loved it. Absolutely adored it. It made me laugh through the tears in my eyes. Because true friendship accepts that life’s journey sometimes takes us through the wilderness. That doesn’t not mean that we are forgotten. Abandoned. Forsaken. It just means that we are more than ever in need of a friend. The kind that will not make us suffer. Who will accept us even without our regular camouflage. Who will contain our pain and keep on loving.
Jesus calls us his friends. He also says that by serving the least of his brethren, we serve him.
Who are you serving?
And how do you serve them?
You may think that you’ve read something about this issue on my blog before? How very observant of you! 😉 Regard this as your “Most assuredly”-moment… It’s important. Take it to heart. Selah.
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