"Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." - Isaiah 43:10
Perhaps you, like me, know someone who's been wandering in the wilderness way too long.
You know, a salt-of-the-earth, long-faithful person who has done all the right things and said all the right prayers, who keeps dragging their battered heart back into the ring—only to get knocked down again. Maybe a brilliant, principled leader who, after years of trying, still hasn't landed a job. Or a glowing newlywed who has kept a stiff upper lip through one life-robbing diagnosis after another, but whose brave smile is starting to crack. A sweetheart with a great personality and a hot bod who remains unhappily single.
Perhaps your someone has run out of tears and is moving toward bitterness. Maybe their hurt runs so deep that churchy platitudes and comforting scriptures feel like a slap in the face. Perhaps they've stopped yelling at God because they now doubt whether God is even there.
How are we to love them?
The godly way, of course. This is our moment to be God-with-them, Spirit with skin on. Where the word of God might sting them, we can offer our own God-inspired words, borrowed from a prophet:
I know this is awful, but I am with you in it. I will pray when you cannot. I will see you through to the other side. With God's help I will help you; I will hold you in God's love-light and never let you go.
Ever-Present Spirit, make me an instrument of your hope for the hopeless, strength for the weak, love for the lonely, and courage for the fearful.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.