I’m not sure if it’s my age or just one of those phases in life but really rubbish things seem to just keep happening to people I love. My phone beeped this morning and yet another message arrived from a friend going through some utter crap. I don’t like that term but really, what they’re going through is hard to convey in any other way.
I sat chatting to my Father-in-law this evening, himself a Widower who cared for his beloved wife until her dying day. He had been to see a dear friend this week who has also been dealt a bucket load of the aforementioned.
Now my Father-in-law and I have been kicking around church for a combined 103 years. Between us we have prayed and supported countless people going through countless really crappy situations, and dealt with some pretty low blows ourselves. Do you know what? The crap doesn’t always disappear.
The sick person never got better. The baby still died. The marriage still ended and the bankruptcy still happened. Wars are happening and natural disasters are killing people who for some reason were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Our faith is strong and our hope in Jesus Christ is so very real. We wholeheartedly believe in miracles but we also know the very real disappointment of a seemingly unanswered prayer.
So how can I balance the deep faith and real peace I have and the reality of the deep pain and real issues facing so many people I love? How do I support them and hope for them and grieve with them at the same time? In truth, it often feels impossible. But here’s a try…
I’m sorry. I’m sorry that it’s so hard. I’m sorry for the pain that you are feeling, both physical and in the depths of your soul. I’m sorry that even though you have done your best and prayed in earnest that today your situation is unchanged or even worse than yesterday.
I wish with every ounce of my being that I could take your pain away.
I’m sorry for the times when people have said a fleeting prayer or a fleeting comment that instead of encouraging you made you want to scream in their face that they “HAVE NO IDEA!”
I’m sorry for the time when someone who should have known better posted something on Facebook or sent you the most ill-timed text about their happy news.
I’m sorry when I sent you that message telling you that the future is bright when you just needed me to listen to how bloody hard this all is.
I’m sorry if you’ve ever felt like a burden. You are not. At all.
I’m sorry if you’ve shied away because you feel like sympathy has moved on and now people want the old you back.
I’m sorry if people have stopped calling you.
I guess with these things that often the intention is never to hurt or to stick the knife in deeper than you thought it could go. But even without intent the hurt is real and it’s agony.
So, precious friend, know that what follows comes because there has to be hope. At this time I’m the one who can hope for you and one day I might need to ask the same back.
I have hope for you. I have hope for your situation. I have hope that no matter how painful, how real and how final it is that God is real and his promises are true. That doesn’t mean that what you have been through will change but it does mean that one day there will be a brighter day when something good will come from all of it.
Will you or your loved one be healed? Will that most precious person you loved and nursed and watched pass away come back to life? Will your finances suddenly flourish or your husband suddenly become anything other than a cheating scumbag? In all honesty I just don’t know. Do I believe God is powerful enough to do all the above and so much more? Yes I do and so I will pray believing that he will.
But what if he doesn’t do that?
What I do know is that there is always hope. I know that there is a place waiting where there is nothing but joy. No pain, no illness, no debt, no heartache, no disappointment, no bad news. Just pure, unadulterated joy.
I know that might feel a billion miles away from where you are today so here’s my prayer for you. I pray that you would know that God is always with you and that he would sustain you today and give you strength to take another breath. I pray that you know just how loved you are and that you will see glimpses of hope and be able to fix your eyes on Jesus who one day will take you to a place so absolutely incredible that you can’t even begin to imagine it.
If you want someone to listen to you, or sit in silence, or pray, or eat copious amounts of chocolate, or watch trashy TV with you then I’m here.
You are loved beyond measure.