I’ve had the privilege of being a pastor for a bunch of years. I’ve got to tell you, spiritual leadership on any level involves a range of emotions…good, bad, happy, sad, concerning, heartbreaking, joyous, hopeful and tragic. It wasn’t too long ago that in the morning, I sat at the bedside of a friend in hospice and prayed with and for him as he entered heaven with one last breath, From there, I went home, changed my clothes and officiated a wedding. At the end of the day, I got a text from another friend who said his wife gave birth to their son, so I went to the hospital to celebrate with them. It all took place in 18 hours. Can you believe it? From deep pain and heartache to joy in a new marriage to a celebration of new life and hope for the future.
When you’re invited to “enter in” to someone’s life or family it stirs the kind of creativity we need to better care for people. Pain has a way of inspiring us as much as celebration. When I say “it’s a privilege” to be with people during their “highs and lows”, it truly is. We were not designed to wait in an emergency waiting room alone. Sure a wedding can be done in a courtroom or a chapel with a minimum of people present, but it seems that joy is multiplied when friends and family can enter into the couple’s joy. Yes, birth and death have a sweet private aspect to it, but after 40 years of ministry can I say, the bonding and vulnerability that occurs during difficult times cannot be measured. We were designed by God to live, function, and flourish in a relationship with others.
This is how the bible puts it in the Message paraphrase 2 Corinthians 2:3-5 “He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.”
Who do you suffer with and who do you celebrate with? If you’re hard-pressed to come up with some names, then resolve today to do something about it. Who do you know who are hurting? Which of your neighbors need something from you…encouragement, a meal, a prayer? How can you enter into a ministry in your church…teach, visit, help, share, sit with, pray for and with? Last question, when will you start? No waiting, remember, it’s a privilege.