Another life ended too soon; another family walking an impossible journey.
It never stops, the cycle of pain. Even when I can conquer my own, the celebration is short-lived as I learn of the pain of others. When you walk through something life altering you come out with a grace gift. It is non-returnable. It is desired by few. Yet, I’d venture to guess that each of us possesses a grace gift in one form or another.
A grace gift is the ability to feel the pain of others. To know where they are at and understand what lies ahead. It is the ability to do more than sympathize. It is to empathize.
For the longest time I was angered by the grace gift. I could not manage my own pain and to hear of another whose hurt was just as (or more) intense resonated deep within me. Each time I learned of another experiencing loss, I was forced to relive my own. It spurred on many questions as I sought to get a handle on God and sinfulness and why so much pain abounds. It was so easy to see the bad in the world. I lost sight of the good. And I wondered things such as why God even created His people and this world. The ability to empathize was seen, by me, as a curse not a gift.
The first time I truly understood the grace gift went like this: Some months ago, I sat next to and watched a couple grieve their lost son. I saw their pain. I felt all that was left unsaid. It was gut wrenching. It brought me back to the beginning of my own grief journey. And there was NOTHING I could do to make it better for them. The only words I managed to share, through tears, were “grief sucks!” This was not a feeling of one who carries a gift but one who carries a burden. I left that meeting in such distress I slid for a period into a depression. Work was the only thing I did. Outside of that I lay in bed. I cried out to God and prayed that He would teach me. And He did.
As God patiently worked within me, He began to introduce the idea of the “gift”. The ability to walk beside another, fully understanding their sorrow, without them having to say a word; this is a gift you can not buy and you can not earn. It must be bestowed upon you by God himself. I saw that couple weeks later and he walked up to me with a small smile and said something to the tune of: “I’m glad you’re here. We all know this sucks.” And I felt the beauty of the grace gift. Hearts that understood another’s pain, comforting words not necessary.
My prayer, now, is that God will never remove my grace gift. I pray I will always feel the hurt of others to the point of tears. I pray God will never let me forget the pain or heartache of my own experience. I don’t want to forget the struggles within myself or with God. I do not want to forget any of it. I’m not looking to carry a burden toward bitterness. I’m looking to retain my grace gift. May it always be a gift I treasure. The day I become numb to another’s pain is the day I cease to live fully.
I cannot stop the cycle of pain. I do not understand why there is so much hurt, but I know God is faithful to provide those with a grace gift to help us walk through trials. It is a heavy gift. It is not for the faint of heart. But a gift still the same, not to be considered a burden. There is a heart walking the path you have traveled whose only comfort that day may come from your grace gift.
What is your grace gift? Do you view it as such?
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-6 NIV)