Some days are just hard. Then another one comes along just like it. Then another. And before you know it, they’re stringing together like the links of a heavy chain and you’re dragging the weight around, exhausted and discouraged and maybe a little (or a lot) angry at the unfairness of it all.
When I start to feel that heaviness, I find myself waking up well before daybreak and whispering, “God, please let today be better”. It isn’t a plea grounded in hope, as in I know God is with me and will make all things work together for good if only I will believe. No, usually it’s more of a desperate, I give up, I’m drowning here. I’m at Your mercy.
It’s not a time I need a sermon or a theological explanation about God’s grand designs for humanity and what a small part of it all my tiny life is. It’s true the big picture of human history is infinitely vast and knowable only to an all-powerful God. And it’s true I can trust Him to take care of me in the larger context of eternity.
But when I’m in pain or exhausted from too much drama and the frustrations of life, you know what I need? I need a personal, loving God to show up and just lighten my load for a while. I need to be reminded of His presence and His power over my situation.
Frequently, He reassures me by leading me to a verse in the Bible. Yesterday, it was this one:
“… [God] is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work in us …” (Ephesians 3:20, ESV).
There it was, in the middle of an article I was reading and it was like God was speaking directly to me about the specific crisis I was facing.
Perhaps just as often, He shows up for me through another person, someone God, in His goodness, has appointed as His representative in that moment. Not to solve my problems or “fix” anything, but just to be present and, as pastor/author Henri Nouwen says, “face with us the reality of our powerlessness”.
In his book of meditations on the Christian Life, Out of Solitude, Nouwen reminds us that Jesus set the example of how this is done. He didn’t just perform miracles, He reached out a caring hand to people in need by first entering into their pain with them.
- Jesus first felt compassion for the large crowds that had come to hear Him preach, before He miraculously fed them.
- He felt the sorrow of the widowed mother of Nain, before He gave her son back to her;
- He shed heartfelt tears over the death of Lazarus, before calling him out from the tomb.
He didn’t just cure, He cared.
He showed us how caring can become the basis of community and pain can become the source of healing and new life. He gave us the blueprint for a ministry of healing and helping each other.
I can’t fix the problems of the people around me and they can’t resolve the issues I face. It’s another hard day. But we can be present to each other in our powerlessness and form what Nouwen calls a “fellowship of the weak”.
And in that humble fellowship where we lean into God together, He shows up in His strength.
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Image credit: flickr.com Robert Brook
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- The best question I’m asking myself these days - July 18, 2016
- A tragic story with a tender twist - May 17, 2016
- Gosh, people are a mess - May 12, 2016
- I’ll take the red carnation, thank you – revisiting an odd tradition - May 2, 2016
- The surprising thing about “weakness” - April 20, 2016
- The holiness of a four-way stop - April 13, 2016