Sunday, January 25, 2009

Moses' Mom's Neighbour - Part Four

What do you do if Moses’ Mom’s neighbour happens to be your friend, a member in your church, or indeed your neighbour? How do you provide authentic and meaningful support to her?
We felt it important to also share our thoughts about how we as a Christian community can respond to those who are suffering in our midst. Often people do not know what to do; or they feel awkward and so they stay away or hold back. Based on our experience, this is what we recommend:
Love the person who is going through a tough time.
This might sound like a cliché or an easy answer. But to LOVE someone it means you have to BE 1 Corinthians 13 to the person who is suffering. This takes time and effort and prayer. However by doing so you are being the tangible presence of God to the person.
Share in one another’s suffering.
Paul makes this very clear in two of his letters to the Early Church. He writes to the Hebrews “remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13: 3) and he says to the Galatians “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6: 2). I find these verses really challenging because they invite us to really get involved in the lives of those who are in pain as though we were in that same pain. Saying nice words or caring from a distance doesn’t match up to God’s standard in terms of loving those who are suffering. This is intimate stuff. The first step to sharing in another’s suffering is taking the time to understand their experience by asking, listening and being with them – and being careful to not jump in too quickly with advice, clichéd prayers or solutions.
Recognize the unique thing God is doing in each person’s life.
Most of us have a standard response to someone who is going through a tough time, usually it is based on our doctrine or belief. Some people believe you should always pray for the miracle and trust God to answer. Other people bring a message that one should accept the circumstances and not hope for a miracle, rather mourn and find the good.
But God doesn’t do the same thing in the same way to each person who is going through a tough time. Instead of assuming what God’s agenda is, ask him about what He is doing in this person’s life and what message it is that He wants you to bring. Let go of the safe standardized responses and rather let God guide to you.

Don’t give up – go the distance.
Sometimes people feel bad that God hasn’t answered the prayers that they prayed for you. Some people have prayed for our Matt to be healed and to be made “normal” and God has not answered. These people took steps of faith and may feel awkward around us because God did not respond in the way that they thought. The worst thing they can do is to shy away from us when we too are feeling disappointed with God. Rather journey with us as we all try to make sense of God’s mysterious ways, rather than leave us alone in our confusion.

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Lloyd and I have both grieved the loss of our dreams and expectations we had for our child's life. We are learning to embrace new dreams and expectations. I don’t doubt there will be moments of pain again in the future, but I think the worst is behind us. Most of my days are filled with gratitude for Matt and delight at watching his beautiful personality emerge. We are finding peace that God didn’t answer our prayers for a miracle to “heal” Matt. We have come to believe that God is not going to change Matt, but rather He is going to use Matt just as he is to help change the world.
We hope and pray that our story and lessons will be an encouragement to you - whether you are walking in the shoes of Moses’ Mom’s neighbour - or if you live next door to her.

3 comments:

Veronica Tooke said...

You certainly are an inspiration to the rest of us!

We all have our struggles - and watching you guys deal so positively with Matt's gives us the courage to deal with our own

May you continue to be the inspiration that you are to so many people!

Love
Veronica ( Matt's aunty )

Micha said...

Thank you, Lord, for Jacqui and Lloyd! Am just in awe and full of tears of hope :):):) One smile for Matt, one for Jax, one for Lloyd

bridge said...

I've been meaning to read all four installments for ages, and finally managed to sit down and enjoy them now, in between finishing the washing up and Benjamin waking up! Thanks. Lots of food for thought. I was gripped from the first sentence, because I also spend lots of time thinking about the unnamed masses in the Old Testament. When benj first came home I would spend night feeds wondering where I would try to hide him if pharoes men (or modern equivalent) came and tried to kill him. With all his crying, I would never be able to keep him hidden. I thought about stream at the bottom of our garden, and wondered if one of the reason's Moses' mother had hid him at the river was because the sound of the river drowned out the sound of his crying.
Anyway, thanks for the blog, I always enjoy it and also enjoyed the latest on Matt's progress. (He eats veggies!! Bonus).