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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The space after words

As you know, I work with men with mental illnesses. Last week one of the guys phoned me because he'd been thinking back upon his life and he felt that at the age of 48 he'd seen just too much disappointment and heartache to see any hope. He had also been hurt by a few people and was dwelling on these hurts and was been sucked into depression.

The reason he phoned me is because he trusts me. We know that we are becoming more Christlike when people can trust us to listen and be there in their time of need. As I was reflecting upon this I read the first Chapter of "The Porpoise Diving Life".

I found this passage to be helpful:

"Christians and Christianity do not have all the answers that can be expressed in words. There are some things that simply defy explanation. One of the most powerful things a Christian can say to a person overwhelmed with the inexplicable in life is absolutely nothing. To sit with the wounded in the midst of their mourning is a sacred privilege. We need to learn to shut up. When confronted with situations that words cannot describe, we need to do just that; stay speechless. There is a depth and dimension of beauty that God’s Spirit is freed to display when we confess, “I don’t have a clue.”

The authenticity of the Christian witness to one another, the world and our God is compromised by the infernal propensity to have all the answers or know where to find them. It’s time to embrace humility. We must move beyond the superficial, surface level exhortations we so readily distribute to one another and a wounded world."

"To sit with the wounded in the midst of their mourning is a sacred privilege" - it is indeed.

Too often Christians reach for their concordance in order to pull a salient quote to move the wounded person on through their pain when most often we need to simply "be with". I could have brought out "All things work for good for those who are in Christ Jesus". This man is a disenchanted Christian who comes to church with me now and he has heard that verse many times but the power of Christ working through me was in my presence.

To have the mind of Christ is not to have all the answers. To have the mind of Christ is to recognise when to speak and when not to; it is to love those who feel unloved; it is to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice.

People experience all manner of grief as they journey through life. Those who have accepted the call to follow Jesus may find themselves called to sit with those who need someone to simply "be".

1 comment:

Sally said...

a wonderful, wonderful post Les- thank you- as one who struggles with depression this really resonates with me. :-)