June 24, 2018 • Life for Leaders
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
My adult daughter lives halfway across the country from me.
Last year, when my husband and I made the decision to move for a new job opportunity, the hardest part of that decision was leaving our daughter behind.
She is perfectly capable of living on her own, but we had been living less than an hour from one another for years. Her occasional, spontaneous visits to binge-watch Netflix or cook and eat a meal together or spend an hour or so at Homegoods had been some of the very best experiences I’d had with her. We are best friends, in every sense of that word.
We are slowly making the adjustment to living so far from one another. We talk on the phone several times each day. I text pictures of daily outfits to see if they meet her approval. She video chats to show me her dog swimming in the lake. We share long conversations about work, relationships, the latest funny meme on social media, and questions about faith.
Lately, my daughter has been sad. A few years ago, she went through a dark season of depression and so, while her current sadness isn’t like the depression she experienced, it’s especially difficult to be so far away from her right now.
It took a while for her to tell me. “I don’t want you to worry,” she told me.
“I’m not worried,” I replied. She was not convinced.
“Hmmm,” she said to me.
“I’m… curious,” I said, searching for what I was truly feeling.
“And maybe a little worried, too?”
“Well… concerned. I think I’m concerned,” I answered.
We talked a few minutes more, trying to figure out the best way to navigate this current season from so many miles away. After we’d hung up, I sat on the couch, gazing out the window, trying to put my finger on how I really felt, knowing my daughter was sad. After a few minutes of sitting quietly there, I heard the answer in my heart: “I’m sad.”
And then, “I’m sad with you.” That was from the Holy Spirit. How do I know? Because of the word, with. Emmanuel is with us in our sorrow and, as God is prone to do, God was teaching me something in the midst of an ordinary, human moment.
Left to figure this out on my own, I might have said I am sad for my daughter, or because my daughter is sad. But God reminds us we are never alone. Not ever.
When we grieve the news of war and famine, of families being torn apart, of people losing their lives, of injustice, poverty, sickness, and death, God grieves with us. God enters into the weight of darkness with us. God does not shy away, or point a finger, or scold, or blame. God comes near to us, presses in with us, bears the weight of sadness with us. Thanks be to God.
Something to Think About:
Think about the words for, because, and with. Why does it matter that God grieves with us?
Something to Do:
Read the book, “The Ministry of Ordinary Places: Waking Up to God’s Goodness Around You,” by Shannan Martin. Read it by yourself, or with a group, and celebrate the gift of the ordinary.
It means so much to know you are with me in my sadness. Thank you for coming close—for always being close to me. Teach me what it means to be with others in their grief, sadness, and disappointment, and wake me up to the beauty of ordinary moments. Amen.