Wednesday, April 8, 2015

When A Friend Is Hurting

It wasn't the first time I'd thought of it...but it was the first time I'd really PONDERED it.

Because there are just some things in life that hit me to my core...things that seem to affect me in a deeper way; things that don't involve me or my family, necessarily; things that I can't just pray over and let go.

Like our young friends who were told, half-way in their pregnancy, that their baby would not survive after birth. He would not be "compatible with life" outside of her womb. These precious friends chose to continue that pregnancy, and that decision brought our entire church together in corporate prayer and fasting for the baby they were determined to love. 

Our family...we prayed for them. We loved them. We did our best to minister to them. They were on my heart most of the day, every day, for 4 months. I couldn't let this go. God began to knit my heart to theirs.

That precious baby boy...despite the prayers and pleading and fasting by multitudes on his behalf...did not survive. He completed his purpose here on Earth, and, after taking one breath, was whisked to Heaven in the arms of Jesus.

As long as I live, I will never forget him.

And his family? They are a part of me. Now and forever.

There's this other family at our church that's having all kinds of struggles with one of their daughters. She started off completely healthy and "normal" (whatever that is), and has quickly and severely regressed in every area. They are desperate to find out what is find treatment or medication that can help her. The mom is tireless in her pursuit for answers, and they have flown all over the country and have seen several specialists, just trying to narrow down a diagnosis. 

I don't know why I connect with some things more than others, but by now...I can usually recognize when something is going to affect me in that way. And this has. My heart is tender toward this family...and I cannot let it go.

And so I pray. And I encourage. And I try to minister however the Lord leads. 

It doesn't change the out-come. I'm not a physician. I don't have magical powers. I cannot heal.

I just feel that the world would be a better place if we would all just invest in the lives of the ones around know, get involved in their them in hard times...encourage them when things feel dark...hold up their arms, so to speak.

We have had SO MANY people minister to our family over the years. When Joshua was born and surprised us all with his diagnosis of Down Syndrome, our friends were there to let us know it was gonna be okay. They included us, prayed for us, cried with us, laughed with us, sat with us, walked with us, motivated us, fed us, encouraged us. Time after time after time they were the hands and feet of Jesus, reminding us that we were loved and cherished; showing us that we were not in this alone.

Did all of that change anything?

Well, Joshua still has Down Syndrome, just in case you were wondering! (wink!) That hasn't changed. But the ways that our friends showed us the love of God...changed EVERYTHING about how we coped day-to-day back then...and how we have lived day-to-day since then.

And 10 years and 2 more kids after Joshua was born...we were faced with yet another serious situation when I was pregnant with our 4th child, Clark. That kid tried to get out from the moment he got in. Not even kidding. And when I delivered him unexpectedly 12 1/2 weeks prematurely, our friends were there for us. Again. Praying for us, of course, but physically meeting our needs...watching our other kids, bringing us food, sending cards, calling to check on us...our mailman bringing our mail to our door. Day after day after day of the 7 1/2 weeks Clark was in the NICU. 

And not even 2 years later, Clark was diagnosed with cancer. Again, the feeling of being hit right square in my stomach was there. Cancer? Are you kidding, God? We already have a lot going on with Joshua, and now this precious baby...who fought so hard to get here and stay here...we might lose him? I couldn't breathe.

Again, our friends and family were there, never leaving our sides. If I had a thousand lifetimes, I could never repay what they did for us.

They showed us Christ.

They gave us hope.

Until recently, I never really thought about how it felt to be them. 

I always kind of thought that maybe they felt a sense of know, that it wasn't happening to them; that it wasn't THEIR child who had special needs; it wasn't THEIR child who had cancer. I always thought it might've made them hug their child them deeper. I don't know.

It wasn't until recently that I began to put things together in my mind. The reason why I felt more connected to certain people and circumstances than to others. Why I couldn't just "shake it off." Why I take on some of the burden with some people...and not so much with others.

I think it has to do with our personal experiences.

I've always heard that God doesn't waste an experience. I believe it.

Maybe I should jump in and help with every situation. Maybe we all should. I don't know.

Well, I kind of do know. The kind of investing-in-people that I'm talking takes time. It is intentional. It is uncomfortable. It is messy. I don't think we can fully minister in this way for more than 1 or 2 people at a a time. 

All I know is that with the two situations I talked about, I didn't feel relief...that it wasn't happening to me. I felt...sad. And burdened. And, like I wanted to do anything to make their situation easier. And it made me wonder if our friends felt the same way about us...back in the day.

At the time, I was too wrapped up with what was going on with us...with Joshua, and then with really think about or wonder what was going on in their they might be hurting, too; how helpless they might have felt; how much they wanted to help;

How they would've loved to take away some of our hurt...if only they could.

This post is kind of all over the place. I don't know that I can put a bow on it and tie up all the loose ends. Just...if you are in a hard place, know that you are not alone. God is there with you, of course...lean on Him. But also, there are some who will come beside you and share your burden, if you will let them.

They are hurting, too. For YOU.

It's hard to open up and share your heart when you are in the middle of a trial. If you're like me, it just took so much energy...and TIME. Energy and time I felt like I didn't have, because it took everything I had to just focus on my child or my loss or my family. But, people want to help...they really do. Many people will offer to pray for you, but some people want to do more. And just how God will use them to minister to you, He will use YOU to minister to them...when you allow them to step into your mess. Whatever it is.

Just yesterday, my friend, Audra, found out that the baby she is carrying in her womb...has died. This hit close to home in many ways, and my heart aches for her. This young mom? She and my daughter were friends in high school...and her mom was one of the people I'm talking about in this post. During Clark's premature birth, his hospital stay, his cancer diagnosis, surgery and chemo...she prayed for us, she cooked for us, and she encouraged me. DAILY. I don't know how I would've made it without her.

And sweet Audra got up this morning and wrote a post on her blog about the loss her family is facing, and it's beautiful and tender. If you've had a miscarriage or know someone who has, send them this link.

She is hurting, but she is also determined to trust God in this situation, and praise Him publicly.

God can use our most painful experiences for His glory and our good...even tho we can't always see or understand it at the time.

Soli Deo God alone be the glory.

"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." 2 Corinthians 1:4

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