One of the biggest mistakes that we pastors can tend to make when dealing with people who are experiencing great loss and pain is to try and say too much. I have found that most of the time people don’t want, nor do they need, their theology fixed while they are in the midst of suffering. What they need is for someone to walk slowly with them through their struggle.
When Caleb was sick, the Lord walked with us by showing up in the form of a believing ER doctor. He walked with us through the kindness of friends and strangers alike who cared for Caleb and us. He walked with us by miraculously forestalled the paralysis before it could affect Caleb’s lungs. With every visit, every phone call, every hug, and every prayer Jesus showed up and reassured us of His love.
God did not give us guarantees that everything would workout just like we wanted it too but He gave us His Spirit and He gave us His people both of whom walked slowly with us though our pain.
The most powerful memory I have of God’s faithful presence during this time actually happened about two months after Caleb left the hospital and started Kindergarten. He was still very weak and was no-where-near as strong, agile or flexible as a normal five-year-old should be.
I can still see Caleb clinging to the handrail as he slowly descended the 4 steps from his Kindergarten room to the playground. While the other kids would spend their recess time running, jumping, and climbing Caleb would just walk slowly around the playground.
That’s when Jesus showed up yet again. This time in the person of a floppy haired bespectacled little boy named Tyler. Tyler was Caleb’s best friend and they were nearly inseparable. While Tyler was perfectly capable of running, jumping, and climbing with the other kids he chose to walk slowly around the playground with his buddy.
I still get chocked up as my mind replays the scene. Two little boys – one whole, the other broken but mending– walking slowing around the playground at East Elementary School in Mount Vernon Ohio. There is something redemptive about that scene isn’t there.
I bet our Father’s heart bursts with joy and thanksgiving when He sees us choosing to walk slowly with those who are in pain. Today take the time to identify with the suffering. Slow down your pace and walk with those who are broken so that they too might experience God’s mending. You don't have to have all the right answers you just have to be willing to be present and active in someone's life. It really can make all the difference in the world.
Thanks Tyler. Thanks for walking slowly with Caleb and being such a good friend. His mom and dad will never forget it.