I have a friend whose mom is dying. Another friend is in the fight of her life against cancer. I look at trials in my own life as means to strengthen my faith. I see them as opportunities to improve on myself and my character and my walk with Christ. However, when it comes to watching someone else go through life altering events, I never quite know what to say. Part of me wants to run to them and preach God’s word. I want to quote scripture and ask if they have Jesus. The other part just wants to love them.
While it’s true that we ALL need Jesus, I think a mistake that many Christians make in attempts to witness is choosing to sermonize at the wrong times. When I was thirteen and my mom was dying of cancer, I didn’t need to hear what a loving God we have. I didn’t need to hear that everything happens for a reason and I sure didn’t need to be reminded that if she weren’t saved then she would be spending eternity in hell. That was NOT the time for it. I didn’t need to hear that people were praying for me either. It didn’t matter if they were praying for me or not. This loving God that they wanted me to accept had seemed to of forgotten me my entire life (at least I thought so at the time) and then He had the audacity to take my mom away from me. Without realizing it, well intending Christians were helping to push me away from God because with every word they shared it hardened my heart.
Now as an adult when facing others with similar situations, I lose my ability to formulate the right words to share. I am always eager to let them know of the peace that I have about life; I want them to know Jesus because I want them to have the comfort of a loving God to turn to. Unfortunately, I always find that I’ve waited too late to witness. I should have been talking to them about Christ before the adversity began.
When I was a kid, after I found out that my mom had cancer, I entered some dark times. Fear, doubt, uncertainty, worthlessness were parts of my daily life. I never shared the details as they were happening but thankfully God placed people in my life that never had to know the details. They loved me anyway. By the time I entered Jr High School my life was so far beyond dysfunctional that I had no concept of what a normal life was. I rejected anyone who tried to tell me about Jesus. I pushed them away with a vengeance because there was no way God loved ME.
I thought of running away; thinking that just getting out of the home I was in would fix things but more so, I thought of taking my own life. More than once I contemplated just ending it all. At one point I went so far as to write the note that I would leave behind. Not because I was ready to carry out the deed but because, like now, I needed an outlet of writing for all of the things on my heart. By the time I was in 8th grade my world was bleak. I was miserable at home with my dad. My mom was dead. I was barely getting by in school. I was overweight with no direction and felt completely lost and alone. I hated my life, I hated myself; what was there to live for?
Looking back, I had a handful of friends. None that I completely shared my life with but some who knew more than others about what I was going through. One in particular always told me that God loved me and when she knew I wasn’t listening would simply resolve to love me. I never understood how much she cared about me until one morning at school she handed me something that I had never had before. She handed me something that would one day change my life. She handed me something that no one else had ever cared enough to give me…she handed me a bible.
Inside was a message from her reminding me of Christ’s love for me as well as hers. She told me to use my bible and use it “wisely.” She wasn’t shoving God at me. She wasn’t force feeding His word to me. She wasn’t condemning me to hell for not knowing Him in my greatest time of need. She simply loved me and doing so led her to share Him with me. I think she knew that day that she handed it to me that I was not ready to listen. I wasn’t seeking Him and closed the door to most anyone who presented Him to me. I do, however, think that she knew she was planting a seed that day and while it took months for me to open that bible, but when I finally did it changed me.
A few days ago my husband told me that I needed a new bible. I protested that MY bible was just fine. It’s been written in, highlighted more than my freshman biology book and the spine is almost completely shredded, the lettering is all but completely gone and it has paint scars from one of my daughter’s first Sunday school projects but I continue to use it every day. Why? Because the day that my friend handed it to me at school it saved my life. Not because I was ready to know what was in it but simply because I needed to know SOMEONE, ANYONE cared and she did. Those days passed and are long gone but some 20 years later, I still hold on to that bible to remind me of what I have been delivered from.
If you are going through a trial now, if you are facing obstacles that have no end or perhaps an inevitable end that you know will be painful. I don’t want to preach that you need Jesus but I do want to tell you that He’s there waiting for you when you’re ready and He can and will help you through whatever you’re facing. No pain is too deep for Him, no problem too big and He loves you with an ever-lasting love. Jeremiah 31:3 And if you’re a Christian with someone in your life that is facing difficulty maybe this is just your time to love them and let God demonstrate His love through you.
Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,