June 14, 2022
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12, NIV).
I received this text early last week. “Dr. ____, Can I come see you today? I’m throwing up and my stomach hurts. And my brother just shot himself in front of me.”
What do I do with this? How do I ever reach the depth of meaning of these few words? I do not live in his world. I will never have to care for his mother, who has now lost her second son to suicide, nor will I have to nurture the four nephews and nieces left behind. I am just a doctor caught in the middle of another tragedy in this broken, fallen world.
And yet, I must do something. I am a Christian.
What can we do as Christians when we find ourselves heart-deep in the tragedy of those we serve and love?
We can listen. Our listening is like a pressure-cooker escape valve for those who are holding too much pain inside. Our listening allows us to advise and assist in intelligent ways. Our listening lets them know we care. In confronting the pain of the world, we must first shut out the rest of the world and listen.
We can act. We can speak empathy into their pain. We can address healthcare issues arising from the tragic circumstances. We can establish referrals to social, psychological and spiritual systems that will help them work through the difficulties.
We can pray. We can pray for those we love because God listens to our prayers and acts in concert with our heart-felt pleas (Mark 11:24). We can offer to pray with those we love, as I did with this young man, helping them establish a connection with the only answer to their tragedy.
If God leads, we can speak “faith flags” and “faith stories” and the Gospel message into their pain, knowing the Holy Spirit has the power and desire to make all of us whole again.
And we must love, knowing that love insists we receive some of the pain, and love takes time.
Life is so deep. Help me to wade in with you and hold out a hand to those who are drowning.
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