I tend to think that I’m a pretty capable pastor. Recently I’ve had some experiences that have shaken me more than I expected.
One night I was called away from a church business meeting to go to the Hospital to act as chaplain. A young man (younger than me) over-dosed and wound up not making it. I arrived before most of the family did. As the evening progressed, I watched wave after wave of family members come in to the ER to view the body of the child that was now gone.
I’ve only heard screams like that one other time,
and I don’t wish to recall that incident either.
Even though this was one of the harder things that I’ve done, I was still basically in my element. I know how to sit with people and simply be present at difficult times. I know how to put a hand on a shoulder, or how to listen to the questions.
What I don’t know, is how to deal with my friend who has cancer.
At 24 she has found herself with ovarian cancer and has begun chemo treatments. I just recently caught up with the blog that she has started for this journey in her life. I found myself in gut wrenching tears as I read it. While the tears were partly for the very real pain and uncertainty that she is working through, they were also for a deep feeling of helplessness that I felt. As someone who is charged with comforting those in pain, I find that words fail very quickly. And being 1,000 miles away, the only thing I have to offer is words.
I feel helpless.
Although, I’m sure not as helpless as my friend. This whole post might sound pretty narcissistic considering that I’m not the one with cancer, after all. That fact causes me some grief as well.
If this finds you, know that I love you and that I am thinking of you and praying for you. I’m sure you’ve heard that many times before, and I’m sure that at times it’s not enough. I wish that I could be there, but I’m also glad that there are others who are. I’m thankful for the real people who are by your side, even if I can’t be.
At this point I’m sure that I should have some sort of happy-ending-wise-pastor-every-thing-will-be-OK type of thing to say. But I don’t. The truth is that while I do believe in God quite strongly, there are times when God seems to be off somewhere else. Psalms and Lamentations seem to be right on course these days. Yes, ultimately Lamentations questions God but then ultimately returns to faith in God. But that’s not an overnight thing. What’s more, breaking of the dark night doesn’t always mean the outcome that we would choose. By yet….we persevere.