When Another’s Pain Makes You Weep…
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
I found myself weeping recently – for another’s burden.
Because life isn’t all barbecues, babies, books and birthdays… Because, as grateful as I am for so many daily grace gifts, I am also aware of others in need of a special touch of compassion and mercy.
Because sometimes the tears come, unbidden, for someone else…
So yesterday I mailed prayerful notes to friends for whom life is hard right now:
- The one whose ALS came quickly and rendered her physically helpless, praying she will make it to her only daughter’s wedding in two weeks.
- The one who is seeking to stand strong in a work atmosphere of toxicity and secrecy – a place where believers are behaving anything but Christlike.
- The one burdened by her disabled brother’s new medical and emotional challenges for which she is responsible.
- The vibrant creative older couple who spread joy wherever they go, but who both are compromised medically, he with stage four cancer.
- The middle-aged single mother just diagnosed with early onset dementia, who is the primary caregiver for her young chronically ill child.
- The one whose family has seen way too much heartache lately, and now her best friend has died.
- The one who watches her once strong inspiring mother completely diminish in all areas and grieves the loss of so much.
- The health professional undergoing radical medical treatment so that she can move freely and continue to encourage many.
- And, of course, my own sweet mother who is not recovering as she hoped from several surgeries this year – life is challenging when you’re in your nineties.
What can I say? I feel helpless to make it better. But not hopeless. I can do only what those friends in the Bible did – they lowered their sick friend through the roof to be near the Master. What can I do? I can bring them to Jesus. Through prayer and perhaps through a few words of encouragement and support.
Are you weeping for someone today?
“It’s an odd thing. Jesus wept. Job wept. David wept. Jeremiah wept. They did it openly. Their weeping, sanctioned by inclusion in our Holy Scriptures, is a continuing and reliable witness that weeping has an honored place in the life of faith. Why are Christians, of all people, embarrassed by tears, uneasy in the presence of sorrow, unpracticed in the language of lament? It certainly is not a biblical heritage, for virtually all our ancestors in the faith were thoroughly ‘acquainted with grief.’ And our Savior was, as everyone knows, a ‘Man of Sorrows.’” (Eugene Peterson)
In our lifelong pilgrimage to reflect more and more the image of Christ, perhaps we should remember what he did when his friend Lazarus died.
“When Jesus saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him [Lazarus]?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him.'” (John 11:33-36)
Do you know someone today for whom life is incredibly hard? Do you also feel helpless in what to say or what to do to ease their pain? Just be a friend. Remember them in some small way. Don’t try to fix it (you can’t), just reach out. If you have the time and energy to provide a meal or a ride, do so. If your own life limits your involvement, you can always pray – and let them know you care.
There is a lot of pain in the world. In your life. And in the lives of those you love. Perhaps even today you and I will be called to sit with someone in sorrow. Michael Card wisely observes “The degree to which I am willing to enter into the suffering of another person reveals the level of my commitment and love for them. If I am not interested in your hurts, I am not really interested in you.”
I don’t pretend to know what hurts you today, but I am sure there is pain in your life too. May I offer you the gift of a beautiful prayer? (from my book “Live These Words”)
Dear Man of Sorrows, so acquainted with grief, Help me not to recoil from Your wounds, not to fear touching them or to be touched by them. Help me to understand that in my suffering I am not only nearest to You, but nearest to becoming like You. It’s a sobering thought and I shudder when I think of it. Help me to understand that many of the sorrows I experience in this life belong to the nature of the world I live in, and will not pass away until this world passes away. Thank You for being in the midst of these sorrows, transforming them into blessings and filling them with meaning. Amen (Ken Gire)
under the mercy, Lucinda
“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”
©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell http://www.EncouragingWords.net
*selections from “Live These Words” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell ©2014 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
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