Walking Through the Valley

This morning James and I had the privilege of visiting with two different women who are walking through very difficult times. Both are godly women who are facing scary and uncertain physical problems.

One friend is a bit older than us and just said goodbye to both of her parents this year. Her mother had suffered from Alzheimer's for several years. Her father had tended to his bride to the very end and then joined her in heaven only months after her departure. Now it appears our friend, on top of continuing her familiar battle with MS, may be dealing with this same terrifying disease. She was very lucid when we visited with her this morning, but she openly confessed to having many strange dreams, delusions, and blank moments. Her health is not good and her mind fails her frequently.

We had breakfast with the other woman and her husband before they left to have her CT scan. This younger woman will be meeting with a neurosurgeon tomorrow to discuss the findings and his plan for treating her. We already know, due to previous tests, the prognosis will be grim at best. Regardless of today's test, she will have to fight to live.

I don't normally embrace opportunities to visit the sick. Count it against me if you will, but I have never felt comfortable in their presence. I don't feel like I have anything to offer, I'm afraid of saying the wrong thing, and, perhaps most of all, I'm humbled by their battle. I feel I have no right to offer them anything. I've not been there, yet, and I have no clue what they are feeling. Still, my love and concern for these two ladies propelled me to do what was very difficult for me because I knew it was important. I knew it was right.

This post is not about the plight of those who are waging a battle against illness. While God has graciously helped me to move past my fears so that I can at least minister to these folks in some small way, I certainly have not been close enough to that kind of pain to write about it with any measure of knowledge or perception. I'm sure the day will come when God will see fit to increase my acquaintance with such a battle, but up to this point we have only had a few small scares. They didn't seem that small at the time, grant you, but looking back they pale in comparison to the uncertainties these two women face.

This post is about those of us who walk with those who are hurting, those who are sick, those who are facing grim news. And perhaps not so much those who are walking arm in arm with them, but more specifically those who are watching from afar as someone dear, but not so close, walks through a season of difficulty.

What is there to do?

I heard from these women (and a concerned husband) this morning several things that I can do. They requested some actions; others were implied. But this is what I heard:

I'm sure there are other things we can do for those who suffer, even when we are not the ones walking hand in hand with them. We are, after all, the body of Christ. We are called to share others' burdens with love and compassion.

Maybe you are like me and this is not an easy fit. No excuse. Let's not let anyone walk through the valley alone. Even if we ourselves are on a mountain top while they are walking in the valley below, at least we can shine a little light on their path, encourage them with compassionate words, relieve them of some of the load, and pray them through.

If you are in a valley today, my heart goes out to you. Please consider that not everyone knows what to do to help you. Be patient with us. Tell us what you need. Most importantly, tell God what you need. He will never fail you even if I do.

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