Yesterday I had the opportunity to preach again at a local church. I have about half a dozen messages that I have ready to go when these opportunities arrive. Sometimes, when I am invited to speak a text or theme is picked out for me, but more often than not, that is left to me. I knew a month ago what I would be preaching yesterday. The sermon was Cornered for Grace based on Psalm 13. I have posted that sermon and the audio of one of the times I gave it here. While I was sure that God was moving me to preach it to this congregation, I did not know is how timely it was going to be for me.
It has been a rough week. I have a daughter in the hospital for depression and a spiritual daughter in for the same. We are in the middle of a kitchen remodel that was made necessary by water damage. We have had a devil of a time scheduling a plumber to come in and reconnect everything. You never think about how important a sink and stove are to the mood of the house until they are gone. It is amazing how much stress that can build up, especially in our girls. It has been forever it seems since I have worked on my PhD thesis. The fires keep listing up and the things that need done keep building up.
As usual I agree with Calvin who once quipped…
Yeah. I totally get that.
I know things are going to work out. The lesson here is to be learning that I am not capable and that Jesus is capable. I am not enough, but Jesus is enough; and because of Jesus I will always have enough. Unfortunately, the only way to be learning that is to be taken to people and places and to problems where it becomes painfully clear that you are not enough and if Jesus does not come to the rescue, you’re sunk! The truth is Jesus has always come through in the past. I have every reason to trust Him for today and tomorrow.
While that is a great truth to be learning, it is important to understand that there is nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade. Most people when they hear a person tell them the hard things they are going through as they are learning these things, say things like: I’m so sorry. I’ll pray for you. Everything happens for a reason. But I have been learning that sometimes the most helpful thing is to validate the crap.
Let me give an example.
After the service yesterday, I talked with a woman who shared how much the message helped her. She had recently been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. “We all know where that ends up.” She said.
I looked her in the eyes and what came out of my mouth was, “That sucks.”
She blinked in surprise, then gave a deep sigh of relief, smiled and said, “Thank you. It does suck. thank you so much for saying that. That is what I needed to hear.”
I have been learning that sometimes the best way to help people get through the pain, is to validate the pain. We need to give people the grace and space to admit that while everything will be alright, right now it is not alright, and that it hurts. David did it in Psalm 13. Elijah told God he wanted to die. So did Moses at one point. Jeremiah had his share of bad days too. So did Job. Even Jesus asked for the cup of suffering to be taken away if it were possible. That should make it clear that it is okay to not be okay.