Monday, April 23, 2012

Walking Through The Hard

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. ~ Job 2:11-13, NIV

I wanted to share something with all of you out here in the Blogosphere, and it is now my extreme honor to do so.  

Today's post focuses on how we as Christians often deal with those people in our lives who are broken, hurting, struggling and suffering.  Many on a daily basis.   Most times, since we seem to be really uncomfortable around them or are unsure what to say, we simply avoid them.  

Or sometimes, like Job's buddies, we try to pinpoint their problems with misspoken words in the hopes of 'fixing' them.  Job's friends were really off to a great start in comforting him in his time of need....until they opened their mouths.

Or perhaps -- you yourself are among the broken, the hurting, the struggling and the suffering.  And nobody really seems to understand what you're dealing with or knows what to say to you.

I did not write this.  It was written by someone else, a young woman named Rebekah Bell, who posted it on her Facebook page.  Rebekah's friend, Christi Armstrong, a Christian mom and poetry and blog writer (like many of us here), felt her friend's message was of such an important nature that she shared it on HER Facebook page, which is where I found and read it.

And after reading it, I too felt so strongly about the subject matter, that I contacted Christi and asked for her and Rebekah's permission to share it myself. 

As Christi noted when she reposted this:

"The only way things will change is if we all actually change them. Jesus went to the hurting and sat with them, where they were. He didn't sit in His comfortable life and avoid the pain others were going through. We need to start living like Jesus..." 

Amen, sister, amen!  Read on -- let Rebekah Bell's words and her heart's cry seep not only into your mind, but into your heart and soul as well.  And perhaps -- let them change you and how you see those in your life who are hurting as they attempt to walk through the hard......

To Walk Through The Hard 
by Rebekah Bell

So God is teaching me how to “walk through the hard." 

This past month has been insane.  Not just because of stuff in my universe… but because many people I love are going through genuinely "tough times".  Tough health news.  Tough relationship news.  Tough job news.  Tough times in their lives.

And what has been unusual for me is to watch Christians "dive into" these tough situations.  These situations are in different parts of the country.  Dealing with different varieties of Christians.  But the response, across the board, seems to be the same.  Well meaning followers are attempting to fix other people’s complex situations with "one size fits all" answers.

Without divulging details of anything, many of these situations are degenerating. Some involve diseases that won’t end in recovery.  Relationships that are broken in ways that would be difficult to ever fix.  Jobs that were lost because of a dying economy, making finding replacement positions immediately unlikely.  

In this, how does the church help?  Promises of prayer. Which are nice, but lonely solutions.  People sit alone in their damaged lives, while you wander off to your happier situation to pray.  Some tossed around trite scripture passages talking about "seasons" or "making things perfect in their time" or that "God has great plan for you."  Which are nice.  But like handing someone a flashlight without batteries, when faith is shaken by circumstance.

And sadly, I am not much help either.  My heart isn’t full of grand solutions.  Recently, I had to face the reality of my Grandmother’s mental condition.  First, you have to understand, my Grandmother was my rock.  She helped raise me.  More than a Grandmother, she was my friend. We chatted about school.  She taught me to drive. When times were hard, growing up, she let me sit in her house and cry (that happened a lot).  My Grandmother now seems to have developed dementia.  The person that I loved has changed into someone unpredictable.  I am watching one of the most precious relationships in my life slip away and I can’t stop it.

To help me deal, someone gave me the "it gets better" speech.  Seriously.  From this, there is no better.  The relationship that I once had is going to slip away, not get better.  

What I need is people who are willing to help me "walk through the hard."  Not tell me "look for the better."

But this is where Christians seem to "land."  Easy quotes that are supposed to make things better.  A prayer.  Pat on the head.  And you are off.  Faith bright and shiny.  Into a world with complex situations. Shouting "keep the faith" at people, from the safety of shore, as they bail water from a sinking boat.  

Why can’t we let the bad stuff be bad?  The hard stuff be hard?  Situations remain broken.  Why are we quick to stick a band aid on a broken leg and tell people that they should be able to walk around.  Where does this impulse come from?

I think that it is because faith in a loving God is threatened by unlovely circumstances.  

And that is hard to deal with.  To travel that road.  And we are generally unwilling to do it.  We pray for protection in our lives and are happily isolated from the difficulties of others.  Holding out for them pretty pictures of uncomplicated faith, rather than sitting with them in the dark places, where there aren‘t beautiful things.  

I think we fear the hard.  That is why we can’t let it be hard.  And to me, empirically, the inevitable conclusion seems to be that God is frequently unwilling to make things easy.  He lets them be hard.  

Thus, if we are to call ourselves a people of a true faith, it is time for us to embrace the presence of hard things. To seek out darkness and not run away.  To resist the urge to make the complex, less than what it truly is.  To allow the faith to exist in the dark and forbidding places of life.  Situations where "better" is unlikely.  And not abandon those who are in pain, to the pain they are feeling. 

It is time to learn to walk through the hard.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn." Romans 12:15, NIV


  1. Oh I could cry- true! Thanks for sharing Pam...I want to cry as so many around me are suffering and we are all caught up in the pain of life after all, aren't we? The living, dying, crying, laughter. Oh it is hard and beautiful...when we hold on to each other- in the dark. And in the light...and we hang onto Him being good when we are overwhelmed by our circumstances and can't quite see it but still know it at the core. Oh for friends that get that. Sometimes it is just the presence of another...that is enough, in the just sit with the pain of life and know...and be. Hugs on you, my friend!

  2. Thanks so much for posting this! It is full of great truth and I can identify with it a lot. I have been "walking through the hard" for over a year and my main solution has been to isolate myself, other than blogging, its just not helpful to be around people who cannot understand. Thanks for this.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. Walking together through the hard is what we need to really work on as believers! Walking it alone is hard enough, walking it when you think you should be doing something else is almost impossible! Walking it together, knowing you are not alone is a blessing!

  4. Thanks for all your comments, dear ones. Walking it alone IS hard enough, but I often hide from others, because to share what is so hard in my life to deal with can be so very painful, shameful and can open me and my life situations up to judgement and criticism from those I've opened up my heart to, etc. But God did not create us to go it alone, now did He? Something we need to continue working at. Always a work in progress, yes?

  5. Oh thank you so much for posting this...what a timely message for so many people dealing with unbelievable heavy loads. Sometimes the best thing you can do is put your arms around them and say, "This really sucks" Because it does! People really do want to help, many times they just don't know how. Rebekah's story is so familiar, I know so many going through this right now. My heart breaks for her. Lori

  6. Lori,

    Thanks for taking the time to stop by, read and comment on this post. I agree with you that putting your arms around someone and telling them 'this really sucks' is often the best thing you can do. Many times, hurting people don't want to be 'fixed,' they just want their suffering acknowledged, to be comforted and to know that someone cares about them and is there for them. I, too, know so many -- too many actually, going through this now.

    Blessings to you, Lori,


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