Ministering to others will always include suffering, but here is the secret to surviving it.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
15 Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep. 16 Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourselves as wise. Romans 12:15-16 (TEV)
1 Keep on loving one another as Christians.2 Remember to welcome strangers in your homes. There were some who did that and welcomed angels without knowing it. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them. Remember those who are suffering, as though you were suffering as they are. Hebrews 13:1-3 (TEV)
25 And so there is no division in the body, but all its different parts have the same concern for one another. 26 If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it; if one part is praised, all the other parts share its happiness. 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 (TEV)
Only from a personal encounter with the Lord can we carry out the diakonia (service) of tenderness without letting us get discouraged or be overwhelmed by the presence of pain and suffering.
Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something. William Goldman from the Princess Bride
Though life isn’t always pain, (it just seems like it some years!), There is enough of it to go around.
Since ministry is about meeting people where they are at and revealing to them the love and mercy and work of Christ in their lives, it must also be true that “ministry is pain, and anyone who is telling you different, is selling you something!”
As we look at the quotes from the Apostle Paul, there is a simple acknowledgment of this fact. We share in the suffering, we share in the tears and the pain of those who are enduring hard times.
There is no avoiding that truth. If your church, your Bible Study and the people in them aren’t experiencing anxiety, pain, concern, it is probable that they are, you just don’t see it. It is possible that everything is awesome but more likely, people are afraid to open up to share what they are struggling with in life.
So, given that we will encounter people who suffer, who we will share the tears and the pain with, the question then becomes, how do we survive this, especially when there are many people struggling, many tears to share, many people to care for in our circles? How do we share in the pain, without it having a long-term effect on us mentally, physically and spiritually?
On a tangent, modern psychology is now recognizing such stress on the life of caregivers (counselors, pastors, teachers) and first responders, as they develop information on “Second Hand Shock Syndrome” a form of PTSD that constant exposure to others’ stresses can cause. Take it from me, I have learned to be aware of its effects, as they impact others around me when I am dealing with too much.
My answer may seem too simple, not scientific enough, and not always possible.
It is the answer that Pope Francis notes in the quote above. It is the personal encounter with Christ that can alleviate the oppressive discouragement, It is only encountering Jesus, regularly and intimately that enables us to continue to be tender and caring with those who are weeping, with those who are broken.
We find our hope and theirs, as Christ is healing our brokenness, as He is wiping away our tears, as the Holy Spirit comforts us with a peace that goes beyond all logic. But that only comes in those moments where we realize His presence, where we just are still and know He is God, that He is our God.
Such as at the altar, when we receive His Body and Blood. Such as in our daily time where we pray, and read, and simply adore the Lord who has given us life. SUch as the time when we hold each others hand, and silently pray as we weep, and then experience His peace.
Are we still going to weep? Yes.
Are we still going to feel helpless and broken? Yes, absolutely.
Are we going to endure, sure of the ministry that is God’s, that He shares with us, that will bring comfort and peace to those we serve? Yes, absolutely.
God is with you, know that dwell on that, and the tears can flow, and the weeping can occur, and you will be amazed at what he does thru… and in you.
Godspeed, and God’s peace….
Heavenly Father, help us in our brokenness to rely on the Spirit’s comfort, and help us to see that comfort shared with those who are weeping… in Jesus name, we pray, AMEN!
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 244). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist
Posted on July 28, 2018, in Devotions, Pope Francis, Theology in Practice and tagged comfort, hope, life is suffering, Ministry, peace, practicing the presence of God, Second Hand Shock Syndrome. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.