Maybe it’s the season or maybe it’s just life but I have a lot of friends going through really hard stuff right now. Infertility, parenting stubborn kids, long-term Christians who’ve walked away from God, suicide, chronic pain, marriage breakdowns, stillbirth and miscarriage, problems at work… The list seems to go on and on.
My heart breaks every time I hear of another one - even of people I don't directly know. I sit there, phone in my hand, wondering what on earth I can say to encourage my friend. There are the good Christian platitudes, of course – God’s got a plan in this, all things work together for good, you’ll get through this – but, much as I believe them, they’re not helpful. No words I can think of are.
The silence between us stretches so long that the person on the other end of the line probably thinks I’m ignoring them or just don't care. Nothing could be further from the truth. My heart aches with the pain of what I've just heard. The “I’m so sorry, I’ll be praying,” I eventually reply with might seem like just another platitude but I promise it’s not. I take my broken heart off for a walk and I pray. Sometimes the words come straight away but more often I just sit there with God, hurting and knowing he understands. He’s hurting too. He’s fine with my ‘why God?’s and more than okay with my silences. And when the words do start to come, he loves that too.
For all my friends struggling right now, for friends of friends dealing with far more than they can handle, I might seem far away or like I don't care but please know that I do. More than you'll ever know. And I am praying. Every day I am praying. For you.
I pray God will give you peace. Amidst the craziness and the pain, the grief and the shock, I pray you’ll find moments of peace.
I pray God will put people around you – just the right amount – who’ll say the right thing, or just be there and not say anything at all. And that he’ll bar the door from those with the best of intentions who just make it all worse.
I pray he’ll give you the strength to get through minute by minute, hour by hour and the wisdom to know how to do that.
I pray he’ll give you the courage to allow yourself time to heal. And time to grieve. That you know you don’t have to put on a happy face just to make us all think you’re okay. That it’s okay not to be okay. But it's also okay to smile. That you'll feel free of judgement and safe to be whatever you need to be.
I pray that you’ll know that it’s fine to question God and even to yell at him. He’s big enough to handle it. But that you’ll also know he loves you, no matter what, and that you’ll let him do that. That you’ll let him in.
I pray that he’ll give you moments of joy. I know, that seems crazy when all you feel right now is pain or like your whole world has fallen apart, but I pray he’ll give you joy. Memories of good times, friends to laugh with, a rainbow or a ray of sun breaking through the dark clouds when you least expect it.
I pray you’ll find hope. That though your world seems unbelievably dark right now, I pray that you’ll know that there is hope.
Most of all, I pray you’ll know you’re not alone. God is there with you in your pain and questioning but so are others. More people than you know. There are those who’ll be right beside you, day by day, but there will also be those like me who don’t know what to say or are too far away to help but are praying. We’re on your side too.
I might not know the words to say to you, but please know, I am praying. Every day, I am praying.
You are not alone.