“It is a long way off, sir”
“From what Jane?”
“From England and from Thornfield: and ___”
“From you, sir”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
It’s been one of those weeks. One of those months, really. People I love are in the trenches and I’m far away. They are dealing with the kind of news that makes you sit straight up from the shock of it and then the heaviness of it threatens to bring your shoulders all the way down to your knees. They are strong people, “my” people. They aren’t new to the arena – not some rookie gladiators facing giants for the first time. They are people of faith. They trust God. Their shoulders are squared and their eyes are on the one who gives them hope. They’ve seen his faithfulness and they trust him for their future. They are hanging on to every word that comes from the Father. They have placed their hope in him. I’m amazed and inspired by their faith. So I’ve lifted my face toward heaven and will believe with them.
But I want to hold their hands and sit quietly with them when they have to wait. Love cooks and runs errands and brings Starbucks to the hospital, darn it! It takes care of laundry and littles. It is PRESENT. Isn’t it?
Yes. And no. Distance separates us physically. Too many miles mean there can be no hospital visits. After a much melted chocolate bar, I’m certain that my friend almost three thousand miles away prefers that I not send a casserole.
So, what do we do with that? Struggling with lots of emotions, I had to get honest and name them. The first one that popped up? Jealousy. Jealousy bubbles up when I think someone else might be doing what I could do better (see what I did there?). It rears its very ugly head when I begin to fear that my position will be usurped. Perhaps the person who is present will become nearer and dearer to their heart than me. Insecurity shows up for this party, ‘cause he and jealousy are close companions. I had to honestly deal with that in light of this:
- Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:4
- Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves. Philippians 2:3
Motive check! When my heart longs for the people I love to have every need met and I turn from my own desires, I can rest knowing that God is going to provide and that his plan for them is good.
Fear is real, friends. Allowed to run amuck, my thoughts will go to all sorts of scenarios that never end well. So far from the battle, I begin to worry and fret. This reminds me that every thought matters:
- Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4:6-9 (MSG)
And finally, I had to deal with this. I’m sad. It’s a profound sadness because I can’t connect the way that my heart longs to. I struggled with admitting this because after all…THIS.IS.NOT.ABOUT.ME. Others are facing serious illness and loss and I have no right to feel sad that I can’t be there. And then the Spirit of God reminded me of this:
- Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” – John 11:35-36
I know that I have entered into the emotions of my people. And that, my friends, is holy ground. You might want to remove your shoes and join me there.