i have spent hours and days in hospitals. with white push button beds and heavy curtains hiding the view of more hospital. sometimes in labor that let new life make it’s introduction. more often in witnessing brokenness and suffering and death bring end to here and now.
i have stood flowers and card in hand or tears held back…offering words and tokens like ice chips. hoping for comfort in my say and do.
some time ago god brought me to a friend’s side while he walked away from the devouring comfort that is addiction.
born of disappointment, failure and loss, it had pummeled him to near brokenness. then god brought him to collision with mirror truth suffering and a tearing down to rebuild.
every day took more from him and i watched the branches fall, fearing this tree could bear no more cutting away.
i held out promises i knew to be true, but next to his hurt they felt empty and unable to scale the walls hopeless had built. my own stays in suffering have been two star and i have checked out mostly intact. with my spoonfuls of suffer i felt unready to walk beside him and his army duffel of surplus.
but i stayed. with love.
because it is the greatest of these and it has never failed.
my plastic cup crowded with ice chips i offered one after another. they disappeared so quickly, it felt like nothing worth giving.
but they are. worth giving.
i am here by your side.
reminders of hopeful future until you glimpse the coming true.
the i’ve seen it light at tunnels end so i’ll hold belief for both of us.
in the middle of this you are loved.
when blisters and ache from the walking beside felt like too much, i took my hurt at his hurt—spilling from my cupped fingers—to share with a friend. she offered to hold as much as she could and i loved her even more for her choosing to love him this way too.
and when i needed restoring for belief in restoration…day after day god came in the room and refilled my cup with cool, wet comfort. and i stayed.
…to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.