‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’ ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.’ This is the type of encouragement that many give to those enduring a painful providence. There is a shred of truth in such counsel but there isn’t much real comfort.
Our painful experiences in this fallen world make us feel like we are all alone in the bottom of a deep dark well. It is damp and cold with little light and no apparent way out. We may be able to see a few bright stars from the bottom of the well but we cannot seem to get to the light. Then, we hear someone at the top of well. We shout, ‘Help me, I am stuck at the bottom of this well and I can’t get out!” The welcome sound of another voice responds, “How can I help?” “Throw me a rope.” “Ok, sure, I got one in the truck. Just a minute.”
He returns and throws you a rope. You begin bitterly to complain. “Why did you throw the rope down?’ ‘That is what you asked for. What’s the matter?’ “Well, you could have held the other end of the rope!!”
Platitudes throw the whole rope down the well; true comfort holds the other end of the rope. To come alongside one who walks in darkness may mean simply sitting with them in silence, or praying for them, or sending them a card or a meal. Just being there is often a comfort. It may mean pointing them to God by being the presence of God in the darkness. It may mean showing the compassion and love of God in countless practical ways.
My family and I are at the bottom of the well with hundreds of ropes surrounding us. We are truly overwhelmed by the love and compassion of the Westminster Family and the wider church as well. So many have gone the extra mile to serve and encourage us. To experience the heartfelt love of God from so many and in so many practical ways is true comfort. I thank God that you are holding the other end of the rope for my family.
It almost makes being at the bottom of the well a thing to welcome with open arms. Almost.