Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Finding The Pure Joy

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."


Laura said...

Ah, those friends of Job still make their rounds even today.

I did a study yesterday morning on Jesus being troubled at our anguish and heartache. The only other times I could find the same description of "troubled" being applied to Jesus outside of when he saw the pain his friends were in over Lazarus' death, was when He was faced with betrayal and the cross. That's the kind of troubled He was over His friends' loss and hurt.

He doesn't expect cheery smiles and happy days. He knows how you feel and not only understands it, but He's troubled with you - not worried about the outcome, but troubled in His heart that you're hurting.

You know all this and the rest, that He just wants you and not all the churchy-happy-don't-you-dare-lose-your-faith-by-even-slightly-frowning, so keep resting in that wisdom He's given you!

Mary said...

Oh Debra, I am so sorry! I can only imagine how adrift you and Tom must feel. Thank you for sharing your story, even in your sorrow you are blessing others- I gave myself a big 'ol "don't-sweat-the-small-stuff-look-at-what-others-are-going-through" kick in the pants. It was badly needed. I am keeping your family in my prayers.

Blu-I'd-Blonde said...

Dear Debra: My hubby and I have been through several dark places in our life together. Even now, sales in his business are down and we praise God for every one he can pin down, no matter the amount.

My faith and Bible are great comforts during these times, especially the Psalms. More than that were people who would listen to my heart's burdens and offer what they could, whether through a meal or suggesting resources that could help us through the situation.

Sometimes we become paralyzed with the surprise and the fear of what we're going through. One of the first things we did was go to a financial counselor to help us figure out our resources and how to plan ahead. We took advantage of discount food stores or plans that let you buy boxes of food for an hour or two of volunteer work.
At one point we moved to a smaller, less expensive house which brought us relief in living and tax burdens. Sometimes, this may not be a good move, especially if your home is debt-free.

Most times it was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and trusting in God's providence and in the providence of people who felt that God-urge to help us. What a blessing that was, and just when we needed it.

I encourage you not to panic or lose heart. Try to think of 3 things you are grateful for today, don't withdraw from others (which sometimes happens) but keep the bonds of family and friends strong. You will get through this one day at a time. God loves you and so do we.

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

Dear Debra,

I am sending you some hugs. This has got to be such a tough time in your life. I haven't experienced what you are going through, but all of Paul's illness and death were such a grief, and something I couldn't really understand or change. Our life had been such a blessed one in so many ways. But you are right, I think. If there is one thing that this kind of experience can do for you, it is to grow your compassion. And I do think other good things may come out of it too.........

Is your farm taxed as a farm? Could it be turned into a tree farm? This just came into my head. I have no ideas about how this works in New York.

But know you are in my heart.

Jammie J. said...

This is such a huge loss -- not just the money part, but the routine part -- his job has been a part of your lives for so long.


Saija alerted me to your troubles... I normally read your blog late at night before I got to bed, because your words are so uplifting to me or make me think. I'm so sorry I didn't know earlier.