I Could Feel Their Sadness
This Sunday I walked into church and found out a family that normally sits in front of me just lost their 9-month-old daughter. What do you do in this situation? What can you say? As I offered my condolences and prayed with the couple, I could feel their sadness and pain, knowing it was just a small portion of what they were going through.
I love my family. They are precious to me. I know I would be devastated if I was in their shoes.
Uncomfortable With Pain
Most of us are uncomfortable with pain. We avoid it for ourselves and don’t like to enter other people’s problems. We don’t like them being sad, so we try to move to them to the truth: God is good and He will redeem the situation. While I believe those things to be true, when we avoid the pain, we can’t fully embrace God’s redemption.
To close our hearts to pain will also close our hearts to joy. We don’t have a hot and a cold valve for our hearts. There is only one switch. If we turn it off for pain, we lose its ability to feel the good.
As we look at the Psalms, we see over and over again passages that describe the fear, anxiety, or frustration someone is feeling. The pain was being expressed, and God has no problem leaving that in the Bible.
Moving Past Pain
Just like we shouldn’t avoid our pain, we shouldn’t live in our pain either. Our expressions of loss and anger must be tempered with the awareness of God’s goodness and willingness to act on your behalf. If we hold onto the hope in God, we can confidently enter our pain and other people’s pain knowing we will not get stuck there.
Another look at the Psalms, we see this abrupt turn in most chapters where the author throws in a “but”. I don’t understand what is going on, BUT I will trust in my God and His unfailing love. I may not know what is going on in my world, BUT I know that my God is above all those things and He is good.
Entering Other People’s Problems
On this past Sunday, since I did approach this couple to pray with them and feel their pain, I got to experience something else. Instead of being left in the tears and sadness that came while praying, during worship the peace of God flooded over me.
Although I know very little of this couples’ story other than the sit in front of me, I was overwhelmed with the hope for their future. I felt that they would be a pillar of hope for people around them. While they were in pain now, I felt their lives would be marked with joy.
Entering into their problems with just a hug and a pray, I was opened up to the grace of God for myself. His promise is to give peace that surpasses all understanding. We can never make sense out of the death of a 9-month-old girl, but God can overwhelm us with His goodness. The only way to get to these deeper levels of God’s goodness is our willingness to enter into other people’s pain.
Kevin Shorter is the founder of this prayer-coach site and have served for several years in ministry and churches teaching on a variety of Biblical topics. Go to the contact page to request him to speak at your conferences and seminars.