Just now I searched for images of hurting people, and everything I found showed someone in solitude. Extreme pain isolates. It suffocates at a time when love and support and community are most vital. This week, I’ve wished I could be with my friends, wished I could hug them and listen to them, but I can’t. I can only “settle” for a long-distance virtual hug.
When I heard the fourth heartbreaking story yesterday, I had to step away from my desk and process it all. I took my morning break and walked around campus as a light rain slapped my face. The skies were appropriately gray as I talked to Jesus about my friends.
As I prayed for them, I began to feel as connected as though we were together in person. I asked Jesus to saturate and guard their minds and hearts with his perfect peace that surpasses understanding. I called on him to comfort them, to hold them up, to infuse them with his strength, to draw near to them. To let them know his unfathomable love.
I talked to Jesus about my same-age friend who’s just entered hospice care. She had to tell her teenage sons last week that the cancer is winning the battle. Another friend’s mother just died and, as I walked, I asked that the service be glorifying to the God she loved well and encouraging to my friend, left with the sharp pain of loss. I asked God to guide this friend, who didn’t hesitate to give up the life that she loved overseas to care for her mom these last ten years, and is now faced with rediscovering her place and calling. I also asked for clear direction for another friend, suddenly let go from a ministry position with no warning and for no apparent reason, humbled and broken and full of questions. And yet another friend whose seemingly-perfect world shattered when her husband abandoned her and their young children for another woman. I asked Jesus to give her the comfort and wisdom she desperately needs.
Maybe you are bearing a deep hurt, too. Life is hard and none of us can escape that. Illness and death touch us all. Sin has far-reaching consequences that deliver pain to many more lives than just the ones who sinned.
But there is hope. Some days it’s harder to see the thread of that hope. But it’s there. Listen to the hope in these words:
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. II Cor. 4:17-18
As I prayed, I knew that asking the One who is Hope to bind up these broken hearts is the best thing I can do for my friends. That’s better than any hug.