Something I’ve noticed while walking through this journey over the past few months is that certain people seem to get really unsure around someone who is going through a painful or challenging experience. An experience that someone has never gone through – something that to them is unimaginable often brings out the awkwardness and uncertainty. What does one say to someone during these times?
The majority of people are Encouragers: “Keep your chin up”, “You’re so strong – you can do this”, or “God will pull you through this”. We also have the Silver Liners: “At least it’s not cancer, a heart attack, or insert some horrible ailment that they believe is worse here”. There are the Fixers: “I know someone who went through something similar – they did this and were healed”, “This diet will fix you”, or “Exercise, exercise, exercise!” And, since I’ve always been a straight shooter this last group is my personal favourite – the Realists: “This sucks – but I’ll be here for you and hold your hand”. They allow you to cry it out, and perhaps they even cry alongside you.
Everyone means well. I really believe they do, but sometimes it’s better to not say anything (in my opinion) than to fill the conversation with awkward niceties because you don’t really know what else to say. One thing you can do is just ask what they need from you. It’s such a simple thing, and if they’re comfortable with you, they’ll tell you.
One of the things that was said to me often that made me upset) was “God is putting you through this for a reason, He’s testing you”. Telling someone this while they are in the midst of fighting for their life is a HUGE slap in the face. HUGE! I 100% do not believe God did this to me. This isn’t to say that I don’t think God will put tests in people’s lives, but there’s a difference between going through a patch of financial difficulty to learn to rely on God and literally being on your death bed. That being said, I still struggle with wondering why God didn’t stop this all from happening. I’m sure I’ll struggle with that one for a while.
I had an old friend message me while I was in the hospital and he brought a different perspective that was beyond encouraging. He said:
I just want you to know that God loves you as much now as He ever has, and the depth of that love is unimaginable. And every time we feel pain, or weak, or frustrated, or depressed, that God sees that and it breaks His heart and He suffers alongside us.
This! This made me think of how I would react if my own girl was hurting or how my parents were feeling while I was laying there in a hospital bed. When your kid hurts, you hurt. When you hurt, God hurts. When I hurt, God hurts.
One last thing I want to share with you today – I remember one night, early on in my hospital stay when my family had gone home for the evening and I was on my own. I was feeling so alone and so scared. I don’t know if it was a dream, a vision, or whatever you want to call it, but I saw/felt God holding me. He was holding me in His arms like I would hold my baby girl. It brought me so much comfort at the time – truth be told, it still does! I knew He was there and that He was caring for me the way I needed in that moment.
When I hurt, God hurts.