Paul writes, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
I look around at our little community and beyond, often seeing so much that is difficult to bear. Sickness, heartache, misunderstandings, long, tired weariness. How do we keep going?
There is joy, despite the crap. Belly laughs from some authentic comment, expression or daggy moment. Honest joy is a tonic that keeps me afloat.
And then, there it is again, some bloody awful experience of suffering.
A friend asked me to pray with her the other night. She talked about losing hope and not being able to see a future. I felt sooo inadequate. I am no spiritual superhero. Not even vaguely confident about spiritual wisdom. Praying for me is often groaning inwardly, being unable to articulate what it is that is going on deep in my heart. It’s kind of holding people I care about, and sometimes people I don’t even know, saying “I know nothing” and offering them to our God. A god who promises so much.
The morning after this prayer, I woke with a picture. It was a dark place of shadows, and a sense of people stumbling around, not knowing where to go, but walking on regardless. Finding a path that was in front of them, feeling their way, finding gaps, or recognizing worn surfaces. Holding on to one another’s hands.
I stepped back and took in a bigger view. These people were in a valley and as I was elevated, I could see a higher, longer view. There were more valleys, hills and in the distance, a glimmer. A small window lit up within the simple outline of a house. It was comforting, warming and held the promise of an open fireplace and a welcoming presence. It was a space that I knew would be totally accepting of each of us. Us, with all our foibles, hurts, differences. Somewhere that embodied peace.
In the valleys, we can’t see that light. Faithfulness is the quality which comes to mind and we need to nurture it in ourselves. We need it to put one foot in front of the other. We need it to affirm each other. I like to think we can light small camp fires on the way, offer each other sparks of joy and believe that there is indeed a place with a light, called home. Ω
Reflect: Who encourages you? Who builds you up? Who needs your prayer and encouragement today? When you have prayed for them, why not encourage them further by texting them and letting them know.
What is this? Lent is the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of reflection and pilgrimage. To help you on this journey, Sanctuary has put together 40 stories from people both within and beyond the congregation, with associated questions for reflection and prayer. A reading will be uploaded every day of Lent. This year’s theme is Fruit of the Spirit. Why? Read this. #Lent2022. Real People, Real Stories: 40 Readings for Lent © Sanctuary, 2022.
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