It’s been a very rough week. I am used to receiving prayer requests on my phone because I work for a very large church and with a large congregation there is usually someone who is dealing with a very tough life circumstance. We make it a priority to pray for the requests we receive. Most of the time I am praying for people I may never meet. I take these requests seriously because there have been many times in my life that I relied on the prayers of others to get me through a rough situation. This week however was different. The phone calls, emails and texts coming over my electronic devices were from my closest circle of friends and family. A cancer re-occurrence, a friend’s parent diagnosed with a rapid degenerating Alzheimer’s, a friend whose dad had a stroke, a miscarriage, a failed IVF, the loss of a parent, and a brutal new cancer diagnosis. My mind and heart reeled. Why? This is not ok, these are amazing godly people who do great things in our world. These are the ones I share life with, share meals with, and now we share this deep sorrow and grief that come with these life altering moments. None of us escape the heartache of what life can sometimes bring.
I am clinging to my faith and the truth that God is a good God regardless of any situation or diagnosis. That is faith to me – trusting God even when this side of heaven the circumstances make no sense to me. The grief, crippling sadness and doubt are real yet it is my faith that keeps me trusting no matter how burdensome my emotions can feel.
Whenever I hear about someone being diagnosed with cancer, I can’t help but be transported back ten years ago when I received that phone call, when my husband and I had to circle our young family in the living room and explain to them what was going on with their mom. I can touch those feelings easily, and I hurt for those I love having to go through the same pain. I remember standing in church the weekend after I knew I had breast cancer and we began to sing “It Is Well With My Soul”. The people around me stood up and began to sing loudly. I sat frozen in my chair, feeling the heaviness of it is not well with my soul. In that moment I could continue to sit or in faith I could stand and trust in God’s plan and sing with conviction it is well with my soul. I chose to stand and now it is my privilege to share my story and help others stand in their faith.
The longer I journey in this life, the more I realize I am always going to know someone who is struggling. Through my journey and through the journey of others, I am convinced we are better when we do life together.
Here are a few ways we can help each other…
- Pray. Ask specifically how you can pray for those who are hurting and then commit their requests to prayer.
- Acknowledge the news. “I don’t know what to say.” Of course you don’t and that is ok. I know we appreciated people who actually said those words because by saying them they acknowledged how hard our situation was. People appreciate knowing that you care even if your words are not eloquent.
- Don’t just ask; do. “Please let me know if there is anything I can do” is a nice gesture but not really helpful. When people are struggling it is hard to ask for help. Be proactive. I was so appreciative of the friends who just showed up and helped.
- Buy some gift cards. Gift cards can be a huge blessing: cards to restaurants and fast food, grocery stores, ice cream, movies, and music. You can even buy gift cards for gas stations and airfare to help with travel needs associated with a death or illness. They help to meet real needs or just bring a smile to a family in need of some kindness.
- Keep helping. Many people show up in the beginning of a trauma. Families dealing with the death of a loved one or a long term illness will need help way beyond the first few weeks. Checking in regularly and continuing to show up is what really makes a difference.
How can you be of help to a family in need?
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
By Sherri Crandall
Wife to Rusty
Mom of 4
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Associate Director of Women’s Ministry at Mission Hills Church