Loving Through Hurt

Sometimes life sucks.

I’m not talking about debilitating illness or tragic losses or accidents that complicate life and strain finances or betrayals of loyalty and love that hit us like a freight train with sadness and weight. These are the kind of things that are more than painful. They are frightening. And they are soul harrowing. Harrowing is one of those not often used words that is dusted off to describe “heartbreaking loss” that seems to winnow the soul of all support and strength. These kind of losses empty us of a soul-strength that stretches out to our limbs, making all of life a long lethargy of pain and sorrow. Our senses are dulled. Our movements are slowed, our delight in the day is subtracted into a numbness filled with blank stares and sleepless nights.
Years ago, I pitched a book idea to a publisher and was rejected. It was a book about loss and hope. They didn’t think there was a market for what I had in mind. Two months later the publisher called and said now they wanted the book. What changed? Seems another writer had a manuscript about the loss of a child. Now they wanted my book to be a part of a series of books on losses. Eventually, the series dealt with six different types of losses (Loss of a Marriage, Loss of an Unborn Child, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Relationship, Loss of Dream, and Loss of a Job).
I guess they came to the conclusion that there was a market after all, because after all, sometimes, life sucks.
In the last few weeks, I have talked to friends who are in the valley of the shadow of death.
  • I have a friend whose wife decided she didn’t want to be married anymore.
  • Another friend’s wife has been diagnosed with a strange brain tumor
  • Another lost a father
  • Another lost a mother
  • Another lost six children
  • Another has been the victim of rumors at work
  • Another is estranged from a son
  • Another, from a daughter
Sometimes life sucks—even for Christians, who ought to be the most optimistic people on the planet.
But there are other sorrows too. Ones that don’t seems to rise up to the same level, (or is it sink down to the same depths?).
  • The misunderstanding that takes us by surprise
  • The misspoken word that causes division
  • The gossip of one we thought was a friend
  • Our own pride and pettiness over something we know to be minor and yet, struggle (O how silly we can be sometimes!) to let go of
  • A conversation that ends abruptly and we don’t know what we did wrong
  • Or a slight we are held accountable for that we don’t understand or remember differently than the one who is offended
  • Confusion over how to approach a friend about a perceived slight
  • The pressing weight of responsibilities of which others seem oblivious
  • The disrespect of a family member
  • The careless word of a friend

All of these can blindside us (there is an apt word). They hit us when our eyes are closed and the resulting shock to our psyche stuns us into both a wordless stupor and momentary depression.

Sometimes life sucks. 

And then there is the question, “What do I do?”

I’m asking that question a lot these days.

My new ministry with Standing Stone Ministry opens my ears to all of these situations. You see, my basic ministry is hanging out with hurting pastors and other church leaders who know all too well that sometimes life sucks. Many of them are fighting bitterness. All of them are experiencing loss and walking through valleys of sorrow. And a few, have completely lost their way.

Yesterday, I was reading the book of Job and chapter 6 verse 14 jumped off the page at me.

“For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend;
 So that he does not forsake the fear of the Almighty.”   (NASB95)

Yes, kindness. Hurting men and women need kindness from their friends. And without it, their souls run the danger of shipwreck. Would you pray? Pray for me as I minister to hurting men and for Stephnie as she cares for hurting women. We need your prayers. Pray for us and for the leaders we are caring for. These burdens are heavy. I guess that’s why I’m writing this at 4 in the morning. Sleep wasn’t in the plans of God for me tonight. Let’s remember . . .

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another,
because love covers a multitude of sins.

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