NETWORK WITH OTHER SURVIVORS
Our healing is never just for us. “God comforts us in all our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affiliation with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort. II Corinthians 1:4-6
Paul, through every persecution he endured, found perspective and strength knowing that his suffering was more than just about Him. It was too know Jesus better but it was also to help others. The only way he, or I, can ever empathize with another person is to have gone through the same thing ourselves. Human beings are intuitive creatures and we know when someone is speaking to us beyond their ability to understand. The words sound hollow and the wisdom is usually trite.
If the best one to reach someone in pain is another who has survived the same pain, that should give me direction in knowing how to reach out to people I love with whom I can’t relate. If I have not experienced what they are enduring, there is someone not too far away who has. My role would be to network them. Introduce them. Plan a lunch or an afternoon just to hang out. The survivor will quickly discern the needs of the one who is currently in the fire.
Each of us suffers but we have never suffered in all the ways one can suffer. I don’t know how to relate to another mother who has a child with cancer. I don’t know how to reach out to parents who are grieving their grown children’s sexuality. I may not know how to truly empathize with someone who is surviving domestic violence. I know that my encouragement can only go so far. Knowing that, I ask God to do what only He can do by bringing someone to mind, to bring another child of God across my path who has endured a similar thing. The resource may not even be a flesh and blood person, but a book. God knows what they need.
For every kind of pain, there is a specific kind of comfort only God can fashion through the life of a saint who has walked this road before. People who haven’t been through pain and suffering don’t usually write books about pain and suffering! It would be a dry treatise and no help to anyone. To take this further, if you have been through something awful with your faith in tact, if you have dug deeply into Christ for the treasures of wisdom, you have an audience. Someone is waiting for you. Someone is praying that someone like you exists to help them. You can come to see the miraculous. What is that? To experience what it’s like to see something that has been so bitter to your soul take on bittersweet properties. Eventually, maybe even more sweet than bitter.
Network, network, network. There is someone out there who is the answer to someone else’s prayer. Maybe it’s you.
Bring your church together for purposes beyond what we’ve ever experienced. Amen