Ugh. So here is the verse of the day around my house:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4
Hmmm ... not lacking in the Giving Encouragement to Others Department--that's what I want. If I'm going to go through such big trials like Tom's being laid off from his job (see my previous post), well, this is one area where I can count it pure joy: it's the part where I learn to better sympathize with other sufferers.
I mentioned this latest turn of events at Facebook and most of my friends responded lovingly. Here, too, at my blog (thank-you so much!). And oh, how those sympathetic, I've-been-there comments helped ease this burden.
But then there were the other comments, ones from, uh, churchy-sounding friends who offered only Bible verses and be-happy-happy! remarks. Those, well, I skimmed those. Mostly they made my eyes roll and my heart, well, sadder.
Why? Because the Bible tells us to weep with those who weep. And you know, hey! I love the Bible as much as the next Christian, but in times like these, give me perhaps one Bible verse, but also some real empathy. Or a little "I'm shocked!" Or tell me how you've been there and got through it. Or a simple offer to help (which I'd so appreciate, but would probably not take you up on. So relax.). Or tell me you're praying or that this ruined your day or that now you know this world totally is unfair.
Let me hear the compassion in your voice, your words.
Again, Bible verses are wonderful! And telling me that God is in control is super, too. But something else from the heart, some true I'm-here-for-you or I'll-call-you makes the other stuff go down easier. Makes it more real, more powerful, more healing, even.
And once again, this is what I count as pure joy. That, over on the other side of this, I'll become a better encourager, a more caring soul, not just a Bible machine ... dit, dit, dit... spitting out 'happy verses.' My latest hard time will carry me to deeper places of true empathy, real compassion, regarding you.
And that is my joy.
"Words fitly spoken are like apples of gold in pitchers of silver."
"The greatest of these is Love."