It has been a rough couple of weeks in the world. Natural disasters, manmade misery, and a creeping suffering and angst across the spectrum of those I know, both in and out of a walk with God. I look at that suffering, engage with it, and realize that I have not spoken of my personal journey lately, and perhaps it is once again time. Because I see something else in the midst of all this pain going on in the world around me, and perhaps that something will ease the heart of someone in the world tonight.
I have found myself in the last week facing the tears of those I love. A young person struck with terror at the thought of losing his contact with friends, not because of boredom or the other typical teenage things, but because it is what allows him to share the burden of all those who come to him for solace in a world where teens contemplate suicide on a daily basis. A man cried out in despair at the prospect of continuing pain, unending disability, and carrying that burden alone. Another reached out drowning in the pressure and hopelessness of choices made, and no right path forward in view. Still another called out in the pain of betrayal and heartache. Another struggles with the knowledge their spouse will be absent over Christmas, sadness over separation, worry over changes coming. The list could go on, illness, change, fear, anger, despair.
When I began the God Talk series, I was young in my faith, and had not discovered the truth that we often find God in our suffering. Over the intervening years, I faced that truth more and more often. That suffering is ever present in one fashion or another in our lives. And, there are days when I feel so very inadequate in the face of those that come to me for solace in a world so filled with pain. I speak the words I know, thankfulness, trust, faith, gentleness, grace, forgiveness. I know these words are the words that can heal the hurts, give strength in weakness, and redeem the wreckage we get lost in. Yet, they feel so small, somehow trite sometimes. I find myself starting with “I know this doesn’t sound like much…” sometimes. I know it doesn’t seem like the answer, prayer, turning to God, seems so intangible, impractical, unhelpful.
As I thought of this tonight, trying to settle for bed after a lovely evening with so many folks filling my house for a time, and then the blessed silence as guests moved on and the rest settled in, I was struck by a line in the study we are doing in our women’s group. Jesus preached a practical spirituality. He would not tell us to pray and praise, or to follow His commands to trust, to walk in faith, to offer grace, forgiveness and gentleness if those were not practical commands. Looking back over the last several years since I started actively seeking to follow them in my own life, I can attest to their efficacy. It is trust in Him that brings peace. It is faith that brings hope. It is grace and forgiveness, even when it feels like I shouldn’t have to, that brings healing to me and to those around me. It is gentleness that allows me to be a person that those I love can come and share their trials with. And it is prayer, and lifting praise even for the trials that lets God carry the load for me and show me the way home.
To all of you who are struggling tonight, whatever the struggle may be, He knows what you need, and He is faithful. Lift praises, set your heart on Him, and wait in expectation. You will see Him move. Be blessed and be a blessing.
Tera Ertz is the founder of Hope and Change Ministries, author of God Talk: The Beginning, mother of five, and a child of God. You can find her on Facebook, or subscribe to Hope and Change Ministries or Contagious Transformations to keep up with the latest.