What God does when we hurt

As I sit here watching Chip sleep off the anesthesia from his wisdom teeth extraction, I heard the Lord whisper to me.  He is so kind, so gentle, so compassionate...and so powerful and holy and majestic.  I just had to share the impressions He left with me today...

Over the past several weeks, I have watched friends experience tragedy and heartache.  The sudden and unexpected loss of a Dad. The unfathomable shock of losing a baby.  Prolonged infertility.  Career struggles.  Marital strife and infidelity.  And "routine" suffering like problems brought on by aging, parenting difficulties, feelings of rejection and personal inadequacies.  Hurting.  Pain.  Suffering.

I have cried with my friends.  Cried for them, too.  Prayed for them.  And with them.  Ministered in ways that seem pathetically small...hoping that minute expressions of love can somehow administer a drop of healing balm to their ruptured hearts.  Realizing that probably my attempts to minister might do more to diminish my own pain than theirs... but trying to ease theirs nonetheless.  Sometimes sharing a word or thought but usually not.  I have learned that there aren't really any words that help in times of pain.  Prayers and presence seem to make more of a difference.

In every case, as I have felt acute pain for my friends, my pain is deepened when I realize that, at some point, I get to turn away from their pain and towards something joyful or pleasurable. I can sort of compartmentalize the hurt, dealing with it when I feel more capable, denying it when I don't.  My friends can't, however.  Their lives are forever altered.  They have a "new normal".  No compartments are unaffected by their pain.

Please know that I am not trying to be dramatic or pessimistic.  I am just calling it like it is.  At least like I see it.  People hurt.  Deeply. And, maybe I am dramatic, but I hurt with them.  I want to ease their pain, to lighten their load, to help them heal.  And I feel so helpless.  Inadequate.

So, today, as I took Chip to the oral surgeon, sat with him as he came out of the anesthesia, got his medicine, made him comfortable at home, worried about his pain (and OK, laughed at his groggy commentary!), fixed a million smoothies, cried because he will have to miss some fun outings, answered two million questions (you gotta know my Chip!), and wrestled with the he-has-to-go- through-this-knowing-its-best-and-all-that-but-I-intensely-hate-that-he-has-to-hurt feelings, I also prayed.  And heard God.

 What I am doing today is an earthly picture of what He does.  Faulty and weak as I may be, it's a picture of God at work on behalf of His children when they are in pain.

He generously supplies what we need.  He anticipates our needs and provides for them abundantly.  Sometimes through others but always from Him. Directing our steps...or our non-steps. Sitting beside us when we can't step. Getting us up when we fall.  He hurts when we hurt.  Intensely.  Even though He knows that He will bring beauty out of ashes.  Even though He knows He's got us covered.  Even though He could stop it all with just a word.  He hurts when we hurt.  Most of all, He's there.  His presence.  Compassionate.  Strong.  Healing us with His very presence.

If you are hurting, please know that my heart breaks on your behalf.  I wish I could heal your heart, remove your pain, restore you to joy.  I can't.  But I know that you will find His presence sufficient.  I know that you will find peace and comfort in His arms.  And I hope that He will let me be a resource of His love for you.  I care.  I really do.

In the midst of our pain and struggles, we will know that this is temporary.  Even though we might hurt for decades, it's still not a permanent place.  One day, His Presence will be visible.  He Himself will wipe our tears away.  And we will be whole.  And there will be forever joy.  Because we will be forever in His Presence.  Amen.  And Amen.