Monday, March 19, 2012
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Maybe it's Prozac I need before I watch the news any more, because I know I'm going to be hit with stories and numbers that just quantify a lot of hurt in a lot of lives. I mean, there's jobs lost, and homes lost, and loved ones lost, record numbers living in poverty, and struggling families, and devastating disasters, and always, always, people dying.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You about "So Much Hurt."
Recently, as I called a bunch of friends about an upcoming event, I kept running into that hurt in people I know. Kathy's husband died from a massive brain tumor only days after they returned from their family vacation. She's trying to figure out life without him.
One friend poured out a heart broken by what's happening to their family. Travis talked about the collapse of the construction business and their battle to save their own home and their son's. Rob - who's like Mr. Healthy - is suddenly in this pain-wracked battle to beat the cancer that just seemed to come out of nowhere. More calls, more pain. And that's just one day's phone conversations.
It's a reminder that behind all those statistics and news stories are very real, very hurting people. These conversations have elevated three strong realities that sometimes slip off my radar. One, I don't pray enough for my friends. Two, my problems really aren't that big. Three, well, this one takes me back to an unforgettable moment in a funeral home.
Bob was the young assistant pastor at our church, and he died very suddenly. And by human reckoning, way too soon. I struggled for what to say as I walked up to his casket, and here's his widow, Judy, standing there with their three young, unfinished children. Before I could try to comfort Judy, she comforted me. She held her kids close and just said three words, "Jesus is enough." Wow!
And that was the recurring bottom line in my phone conversations. Because my friends weren't just talking about hurt. They were talking about hope. They were talking about their Jesus who continues to be "enough." Our word for today from the Word of God is in Psalm 34:18. It says, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted." You know what? They are feeling Him unusually close. They have His promise that "your strength will equal your days" (Deuteronomy 33:25). And they're telling me about uncommon strength they cannot explain.
They are believing what the Bible says, "All things work together for good to those who love God" (Romans 8:28). Yes, a chapter may be over, but their life isn't. Because there is a Plan! My friend in construction can see some of the Plan in the pain. He said, "Because of it, we're closer to God and each other than ever before." There is a Savior who provides for you, whether or not there's a paycheck, who sustains you when you can barely move, who holds you when no one on earth can help.
I honestly don't know how folks do life's deepest valleys without Jesus. He is literally the margin of emotional and spiritual survival. David said, "And though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." Why? "Because You are with me" (Psalm 23:4). Jesus said, "I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20). I know He'll never leave me. Because if He was ever going to, it would have been when He was pouring out His life for me on the cross to pay for everything I've ever done against Him. He didn't leave me then. He won't leave me now.
Our suddenly-widowed friend, Kathy, said there are some days that she pulls in the driveway from the grocery store and says, "I don't even know how I got there and back." I think I know how.
When our son was three years old, we visited the U.S. Capitol in Washington. I remember him looking up that massive flight of steps and thinking, "Man, there's no way." Well, he made it to the top, because his Daddy carried him where he couldn't go. See, when you can't walk, your Father will carry you. I really can do "all things through Christ who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13), because Jesus really is enough.
A call from my wife came recently with crushing news about a couple dear to us. They are frontline spiritual heroes. The wife, Nancy, died earlier that morning after a long, grueling battle with cancer, and our hearts were heavy. But she had recently said, "The only question is where I'm going to get healed - either here or in heaven."
She had walked through the valley of the shadow of death with Jesus by her side all the way, and that was all the difference. And her husband? Well, his Daddy is carrying him.