When Words Are Not Enough: How to Support Those Walking Dark Roads

It doesn’t make sense. At least not this side of heaven.

Cancer stealing years from folks who live and love well while rapists continue their lust for power and flesh.

Infertility leaving wombs and arms empty while others abandon and abuse their children.

Addiction powerfully pulling its prey away from work, family, friends.

A momentary lapse of judgment, a text message flashes, and a fatal crash tears apart a family.

Depression wins a victory and a family is left with one empty chair.

There are dark paths in this life when questions ring louder than answers and grief marks every step. Where words do little to soothe aching souls and there is no perfect way to tie up the darkness in a beautiful present.

How do we support people walking down paths of indescribable grief?

  1. Text, call, e-mail, and pray. Don’t wait for the one who is struggling to reach out to you. They cannot see beyond the darkness of their path so reach out to them. Let them know you are praying for them. Ask them if you can bring them a meal or take them for coffee. Find some way to help lighten their load.
  2. Admit you don’t know what to say. It is ok to not have the answers. It is ok to say I am sorry. I am grieving with you. We may be clumsy in our encouragement, but better clumsy than not at all.
  3. Refrain from offering trite answers. God’s promises are comforting, but in the midst of the blackness of some paths they can also burn like acid. Be aware that reminding folks God will work everything out for good may not be appropriate. Pray for wisdom. Let the one walking the dark paths guide the discussion.
  4. Pray they experience God’s nearness and comfort. In the darkness it is easy to lose sight of God’s nearness. Still God is the God of all comfort. So pray they experience God’s nearness and comfort in the midst of the darkness.
  5. Encourage them to wrestle with God. Much of Lamentations and Psalms are just that. People wondering where God is in the midst of difficult times. People asking God how long He will wait, where is He, and yet reminding themselves to hope in God. While in the darkness if we cling to God we can hear His still small voice whispering words of hope, correction, promise, and encouragement.
  6. Please don’t look to them for comfort. Often we feel the grief of those walking dark paths so strongly that we bring our questions and tears to them. Please cry with them, but do not force them to become comforters in their grief.

What has helped you as you have walked dark paths?

Angela

How Do You Love a God Who is Able, But May Not?

It is a wonderful thing to know that God is omnipotent. It means that every seemingly impossible circumstance is not hopeless. Miracles can happen. Things can change.

But God’s ways are mysterious. He isn’t simply a divine vending machine.

“I go to church every Sunday, I tithe, and I even went on that mission trip two years ago. Plus I said that prayer and I pushed the Mark 9:23 ESV (“…All things are possible for the one who believes.”)

Instead He is a God who is able to heal diseases – infertility, cancer, mental illnesses, etc. He is able and yet sometimes He does not. Sometimes He leaves us barren, let’s cancer finish its work, and leaves minds broken.

How do we love this God who could change our circumstances, but does not?

We have to trust that He has a plan and purpose in our difficult situation. While our arms ache to hold a child and our wombs remain empty we have to believe God knows what is best. When cancer ravages the bodies of those we love or mental illness darkens our relationships with friends and family we have to cling to God’s promises.

We know that God works all things for good for those who love Him. Romans 8:28

We must trust that no matter our circumstances they will not overtake us for God is with us. Isaiah 43:2

We we must take our stand with our community of believers helping support us along the way.

We can stand with Job and say, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him…” Job 13:15a ESV

We must say with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “Our God is able…, but even if He doesn’t we won’t bow down to anything else…” (paraphrase of Daniel 3:17-18)

There in the waters of adversity God is with us.

In the floods of grief God strengthens us.

In the midst of whys so big and seemingly unjust God is who He has always been – a mighty Creator, a loving Father, a wise King, an omniscient God…

How do we love God when we don’t understand why He seems so quiet, why He doesn’t do a miracle for us?

We remember who He is, we cling to His promises when we don’t understand, and we trust His ways are better than ours.

Friends, if you are suffering from infertility and have so many unanswered questions, I have started a Facebook group for you. Would you join me here? It will be a place of support of encouragement and prayer as you walk this journey. I’d love to have you join me by clicking here.

Angela

Cracked Places: How to Let God Shine Through

In high school I wrote poetry that I rarely showed anyone. The few times I let someone read the words I scratched out on notebook paper, I shook like a leaf. Scared I would be judged, sure my words were not good enough. Some days my inner editor keeps me from tapping out words. Especially words that will float around cyberspace.

So the fact that I have a blog, however imperfectly kept, is not something I could ever do on my own. It is God working in me that does this thing. If it weren’t for God I would still be scratching away in a notebook.

But when I don’t tell you this scares the spit out of me sometimes or it takes God nudging and cajoling me to faithfully write, you might think Angela is something special. You might think Angela is gifted and she doesn’t have to work hard at this. Or maybe you just stopped by and you are already bored. If that is the case click on past and find something you enjoy.

When I am willing to share the rough edges of my life with you, then you can see God’s glory better. You can understand that any of the good you see in me is God alone.

So perhaps it is time to confess our cracked places, share our scratches and scars because then God’s glory shines through brightest.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV

Angela

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