Suffering is awkward. It’s uncomfortable for the sufferers and those watching the sufferers. The most common question people ask us is, “What can we do?” What an excellent question!
Let me answer it from the negative, which eliminates virtually everything that may inhibit you from doing something. There is only one bad thing any person can do; it is nothing. The reason is straightforward: doing nothing flies in the face of the Gospel because the Gospel is always about going, doing, engaging, confronting, helping, and comforting.
So, may I release you from the fear of doing or saying the wrong thing when you say or do something? You won’t say the “wrong thing” if you say something? You won’t do the “wrong thing” if you do something?
We are not grading your words.
Of course, you may say something that is not helpful. Okay. Do we care? No, not really. Not if you say something. The intent of your heart is more important to us than unhelpful words. If your intent is to care for us, you have done well. If the intent of your heart is to care for us, you are like Jesus.
Too often people talk about how what a person said is “so unhelpful.” It’s that kind of talk that is unhelpful. It inhibits the caring soul from caring. It paralyzes people. If you care enough to press into our lives to share your love, we will not judge, grade, dismiss, or show ingratitude.
We may not use your essential oil or follow that hyperlink to the latest cancer cure but rest assured we will appreciate your care. You can even tell us about how “all things work together for good” because it’s true: God is busy with us, and the outcome is going to be good.
Please be free to press into our lives. Say something. Do something. It will be good for us and for you.
- Charlie sent a text saying he prayed for us today.
- Judy gave me a hug (with no words), and she would not let go, for a full 30 seconds. Felt so good.
- Katerine sent flowers. From Minnesota.
- Stacie and Missy came and stayed for three hours.
- Sherrie called and prayed like she was prostrate before the Father. Lucia cried.
- Julie gave us a bag of food.
- Stacey (a different one from above) brought some amazing soup.
- Brandi sent a care package. From Colorado!! The kids so loved it.
- Tom invited us to his house for a party.
- Cara is sending some of Lucia’s favorite lotion. (Don’t tell Lucia. It’s a surprise.)
- Bruce took me to lunch.
- Roy won’t stop asking about our finances.
Be free. Be released to love us the way you believe God wants you to love us. We will be grateful. The LORD’s fame will spread. You will feel good about it too.
Sure, it’s weird for us too. I get it. Let’s let the Gospel bust up the awkwardness of not knowing what to do for sufferers. Go NIKE: just do it. There is one right answer to this tension you feel: enter into their suffering as though it was you because it is you.
Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. – Hebrews 13:3 (ESV)