During Covid, it hit me that the raccoon always wears a mask and washes his hands frequently. And, if you misspell “racoon” with only one “c” and scramble it, you get “Corona.” I haven’t gained weight since grade 4. Then along came Covid. I stayed active, but still gained six pounds. The buttons on my shirt slowly began social distancing.
In all seriousness, the collateral damage of the last few years has more than many can bear. Friends are dealing with the setbacks of suicide, pancreatic cancer, and divorce. One Job-like couple has endured more setbacks than designers of the Ford Pinto. Sentenced to lie on her back with little movement thanks to a torn retina, my sister called, “I need a pastoral visit.” I’m no pastor, but off I went.
What do you say at such times? Hang in there? God is good? It is not God’s will that you suffer? I don’t always get it right, but I tried four things others tried on me when I was in the valley.
- Be there. Your presence says more than words.
- Listen. Then listen some more. And after that, listen.
- If you finally speak, avoid saying, “I know how you feel.” Say things like, “This is so hard. I’m sorry.” Don’t be like the husband who, while his wife was giving birth, stood by her bed complaining about his hangnail.
- If they’re in a mess because of bad choices, avoid the urge to condemn. Convey hope. Remind them of God’s grace and forgiveness in your own life.
- Pray. Only once has someone said no to my request to pray. That’s not a bad average.
“Read to me,” my sister said, her eyes closed. As I read some humour, she smiled and snickered. Then I told her why Psalm 31 meant so much to me. “Read it,” she said.
“In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me…
Deliver me, Lord, my faithful God
for you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul…
Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and body with grief….
my strength fails because of my affliction….
But I trust in you, Lord;
I say, ‘You are my God.’
My times are in your hands.”
God be with you today as you bring a little cheer and comfort to others.
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