In the book, Coming Through the Darkness author, the Reverend Dr. Claudette Copeland lets us in on her journey through a very dark and difficult time in her life – a time when she was forced to develop what she called, “big girl faith.” She talked about her experience of battling cancer. But more than her physical condition, she talked about how “the darkness” is something that we all at some point in our lives will have to go through.
The question becomes, how will we go through. Dr. Copeland's testimony challenges not only the sufferer, but those who minister to the suffering. What does it mean to “be a light” to those who are coming through the darkness?
In another place, the prophet Isaiah declared,
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3 (KJV)How do we bring good tidings? How do we give unto them that mourn, beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness?
I’d like to suggest a few ways:
Skip the standard lines…
So often when people are hurting and looking for a listening ear and a compassionate heart, they run into well-meaning individuals who give them standard lines … lines that have no real thought, compassion or substance… lines that don’t bring about healing, but often incur frustration and increased feelings of isolation. Lines such as, “He knows how much we can bear,” “Don’t claim that,” “It’s always darkest before the dawn…” “It must be God’s will…” etc. So often we cut people off without ever really listening to their hearts’ cry. We rattle off bible scriptures, preach mini sermons and sometimes even slam them with questions like, “Where is your faith?” “Don’t you believe in God…?”
When we say these things, we are not giving them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. We are only adding to their struggle. We must ask ourselves, “Will this comment offer them light or increase the darkness?”
Understand the power of love communicated through having an encouraging presence. For the first seven days of Job’s pain and suffering, Job’s friends got it right. The scripture says, that they sat with him for seven days and said nothing because they saw that his pain was great. Only later did they begin to mess up when they started coming up with their own reasons why they thought Job was suffering. Our job is not to determine, why someone is suffering, but shine the light of love upon them as they go through the suffering. You can help unlock some prison doors just by your loving touch and encouraging smile. Sometimes just an encouraging nod, an affirming hug, a reassuring squeeze of the hand or arm, a brief statement whispered, “I’m praying for you…” is all a person needs to get up and face another day. Your love, your encouragement, your smile, your touch is used by God to help turn ashes into beauty and to help someone coming through the darkness.
May you and yours have a blessed, peace, joy and “Light filled” Day! Merry Christmas!!!
Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,