"But now says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are Mine!
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your place.
Since you are precious in My sight,
Since you are honored and I love you . . .
Do not fear, for I am with you."
Have you ever walked a difficult journey with someone you love? Maybe even someone that you don't know all that well? I imagine, like me, you have. I think it is an amazing privilege to walk along side of someone who is on a hard journey. It is also very hard sometimes! It can be draining and emotionally exhausting. But, I truly believe that we are called to walk - even when our feet hurt!
I have a long line of these experiences and I believe that each one in some way prepares me for the next one. I have had the privilege of standing by students who found out they were pregnant; a friend whose baby died of cancer at the age of 1; a student who contracted meningitis and died within 48 hours; a student's Mom who died of cancer; my dear friend who died of cancer; students with broken hearts; friends going through divorce; beautiful young women with scars from abuse . . . the list goes on.
I read Mary Beth Chapman's book, "Choosing to SEE" this week. Wow - truly a gut wrenching, powerfully honest account of dealing with tragedy. So many unanswered questions and yet choosing to rest in the arms of our Heavenly Father and believing in His goodness. I highly recommend it.
When you are walking this kind of journey with someone, it is very challenging to your own faith. You are asked a lot of questions that you certainly do not have the answers for - many that will only be answered on the other side of this existence. You listen a lot - and talk much less. It is also a challenge to empathize (essential) but to not stay there. I believe God uses us to help others move ahead - one baby step at a time. You pray and you plead with God on this friend's behalf. You struggle for the right words to say and count on the Holy Spirit to give you the right words. He is faithful to do that.
I'm spending time right now with a sweet young girl who has experienced some major trauma in the last few years. I did not know her before - a God thing brought us together. I have listened to her, cried with her and offered encouragement and comfort. I feel very inadequate most of the time and yet I believe that God brought us together for a purpose. One thing that I am finding really interesting is the picture that God is giving me of this sweet girl's future. I have such a clear picture of her being happy, healed and whole - married to a wonderful believing man and I have even pictured her with a child playing with her in the front yard. I picture her laughing and praising God for how very far she has come and how faithful He has been through the process. I see her looking back with amazement and awe. I share this with her often. I believe it with all my heart. I'm so proud of her for embarking on this very painful journey of hope and healing. I am privileged to walk with her.
Is there a cost to this kind of ministry? YES Would I do it again? YES Any thing that this costs me is but a pale shadow of what is it costing the one that is hurting. On days I feel drained and heavy hearted, I remember that.
We have a choice. We do not have to walk beside people in pain. God will provide for them, but we really miss out by not participating in this process. God allows me to grow and to mature when I choose to step into this messy process. He challenges me to put feet to my faith and trust Him with the outcome. It has a lot of ups and downs. Carrying one anothers burdens can be hard but we are instructed to do so.
Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Have you been avoiding sharing in another's pain? Are you drained from walking along side someone going through a difficult journey? Are you bearing a heavy load in your own life?
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden if light.
It is easy to become heavy with others struggles on top of our own. It is always good to go through the process of telling God and turning those things over to Him. He alone is the answer and He alone can bear all the burdens, hurts and heartaches of this world. We are called to be ministers of reconciliation - even when our feet hurt.