During a conversation with someone going through a very difficult time recently I asked them how they were doing.
“Fine” they said.
But there was something in the answer that was not convincing so I probed ever so gently.
As the tears began to flow and amid the apologies, this is what I heard.
“I am so sorry; I don’t know why I am crying.
I know what scripture says and I am clinging to those truths.
I know God is good and that He is in control but there are times when I just can’t stop the tears.
At those times I don’t want to hear scripture quoted to me, songs played for me or even someone telling me they will pray for me.
Sometimes I just want someone to give me permission to cry, to grieve. Someone who will cry with me and let me say ‘life stinks’.
I don’t want anyone telling me ‘they know how I feel’ when they really don’t.
I don’t want to hear about someone they know who has gone through a similar circumstance, this is my circumstance and it is nothing like theirs.
Sometimes all I really want is silence and someone to hold me and let me cry and yes maybe even rant about how unfair this is.
Sometimes I just need to open the release valve and let the pressure out in order to re-focus on the truth of the Word.”
What if you were the one broken, in a puddle on the floor broken hearted and overwhelmed? Would you answer the question with “I’m fine?”
When we are given a platform of suffering it is an opportunity for others to see God’s glory in the midst of a difficult time.
However, don’t be deceived into believing that means one must stand stoically showing no emotions, glibly quoting scriptures.
It’s perfectly okay to cry! In fact I believe God gave us tears so that we can wash away the hurt and the pain!
But how do you respond when you come upon someone who is trying their hardest not to have a meltdown in front of God and everybody?
As a young believer I remember hearing my pastor say, “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good!” That phrase has haunted me over the years.
For many years I struggled to grasp hold of the meaning of his innuendo.
As I walked my journey and the Spirit began to mold, form and conform me to the image of God’s Son, opportunities arose to help me to not only understand but to live it out loud.
I must admit there have been many times in my journey where my inner Pharisee took over and I found myself slapping a little law on someone, when what they really needed was for me to humbly and gently be patient with them showing tolerance to them (Ephesians 4:2).
At times I tossed out a verse like a bone to a dog, when they were begging for someone to hold and comfort them.
My inner Pharisee’s favorite activity is to play the role of the Holy Spirit, accusing, revealing, judging and dealing out punishment. I would hear a gentle whisper reminding me the job of the Holy Spirit was already taken.
That gentle voice was good and not meant to condemn me, rather it would remind me, oh so lovingly, that what they needed was for me to look at their situation from God’s perspective.
They don’t need me to hurl verses at them, or have them listen to a song, or pat them on the shoulder with the assurance that I will pray for them – they need me to be Jesus with skin on to them.
We all need to learn to Set our mind on things above (Colossians 3:2), to see life from God’s perspective, and to live life from there!
That is where heaven meets earth and lives are changed!
Jesus didn’t rebuke Mary and the Jews with her for weeping over Lazarus’ death. Jesus wept with them.
David fasted and mourned for the son born out of his sin with Bathsheba. However, when the baby died David got up, washed up and worshipped. His actions were contrary to custom and amazed his servants causing them to ask about them. God was glorified as David turned his focus back to God.
So when your family member, friend, brother or sister in Christ, co-worker etc. is going through a difficult time and you are tempted to throw out a verse or a spiritual cliché ask yourself, “Am I so heavenly minded that I am no earthly good? What would Jesus do in this situation?”
Then grab the box of tissues, open your arms wide and be a safe place for them to release the emotional pressure, praying silently for them as they cry.
By doing so you are enabling them to let off pressure that in turn will allow them to re-focus on God and His truths, allowing them once again to shine His glory to the world around them.