Monday, November 4, 2013
The fellowship of suffering….I experienced it last week when I opened up about the pain of being stared at in public. Many of you who responded were people who have experienced this pain yourself. Your reaction was not one of pity or encouragement, but rather expressions of understanding, “Well said.” “Thank you.” “I’ve had similar experiences.” This is the fellowship of suffering—when what we read points to our pain with such pressure we can feel it, and at the same time brings relief because the words have brought friendship to our grief.
This, however, leads to a good question.
How do we react when we haven’t had similar experiences? What do we do when our friends and family are facing the unbearable? What do we say when all of our words and information seem cheap and wrong and the best option it would seem, is to say nothing, yet it is these situations which cry the loudest for our concern?
This is not the time to try to fix things.
It’s not the time to offer friendly advice or a story.
Please don’t send a message to “think on the bright side.”
I think these are the times when we must learn to sit with one another in the midst of pain and weep.
This is not an easy thing to learn.
Let’s face it; many of us are reserved native Minnesotans, myself included. I also have Norwegian roots. I’m not a crier. It’s like Tom Hanks has been two inches away from my ear my whole life screaming, “There’s no crying!!”
But, as I continue to interact with people who are suffering, I am slowly learning how to weep. It’s like I hold it all inside until it’s pressing down on my chest. When I sit down alone to pray, it all comes out with so much force I can hardly breathe. I’ve learned to thank God for these moments, to ask Him for tears and to thank Him when they come because a hard cry seems to be the only release and the only authentic expression I can offer.
Jesus did this.
In John 35:11, upon hearing of Lazarus’ death, we read the famous line, “Jesus wept.” Jesus, who had just boldly proclaimed to Martha that He was “The Resurrection and the Life,” the only One who could really fix the situation, was reduced to tears when he saw other people’s pain. He wept with them. He joined with them in their suffering. It was this act that caused the crowd to cry, “See how he loved him!”
Want to read more? Tanya Marlow is a minister, blogger, and a person who lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Read what she has to say in an article written for Relevant Magazine.