January 21 – Community
Read: Romans 12:15
Rachel showed up on my doorstep, her eyes red and still wet. “I didn’t know it would be so hard,” she said. Her sister just gave birth, and asked Rachel to be with her. Rachel was in the midst of infertility, but wanted to support her sister.
“I shouldn’t think so much about myself. I should just be happy for them.” Shame cloaked her words. Once fresh in people’s minds, Rachel’s grief had faded for everyone – except her. And in this moment, her grief combined with self-loathing. If everyone else thought she should be fine, shouldn’t she?
Community is at its most powerful at both ends of the emotional spectrum: rejoicing and weeping. We celebrate well: weddings, baby showers, new jobs. We rally tight in a crisis: funerals, meals for the ill, consoling a friend when he loses a job.
But walking a long journey of pain with a friend is altogether different, and often difficult. We want friends to get better; move on; be happy. And…we forget. We move on, inadvertently communicating, “I’ll weep with you for a night, but joy had better come in the morning.”
Yet God gives gifts not only within joy, but also within pain. “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places” (Isaiah 45:3). As Christ’s community, we have the privilege of finding those gifts with those who fight each day in the hope of such treasure. People like the woman who can’t find a job, the friend in chronic back pain whose activities are limited, the man struggling with depression.
Our tears for those who continue in pain…a look of compassion in our eyes…a note that says, “I haven’t forgotten,” help those who weep do the hard work of perseverance. It helps them believe God has treasures for them in the darkness.
God, it’s so hard to know what to say to my friends in pain.
I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing.
And sometimes I just forget.
Help me walk the journey with them.
Help me speak your peace into their hearts, even as the storm rages.