It’s been a while since I’ve written you, and I’ve gone through fifty shades of hell since my last letter. Somewhere along the way I must have pissed satan off, because I’ve been crushed on every side. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 has never been so real.
My character has been questioned, I’ve been attacked financially, emotionally, mentally, and even physically (hello CT scan). I’ve taken blow after blow and finally broke down and cried out in anger, “God, what’s the deal?”
For the record, God can handle your anger. It’s okay, and it’s actually a part of intimacy. So I yelled at the one person who can pull my plug if He wanted to. But I needed to be honest – brutally honest! And that honesty brought me peace, and allowed Him to address everything that was on my angry heart. It was the invitation for healing.
A few days ago the straw that broke the camel’s back finally landed. Anger and frustration were the only emotions I could muster up. My mom’s response was, “You’re frustrated and tense, and you need to relax.” As she began to remind me of the Word, I abruptly stopped her speech and said, “Ma, I know the scriptures, and I don’t want to hear your scriptures. Right now I don’t want to hear anything about God’s Word, because I’ve been quoting it for years, and here I stand disappointed (again). Save your scriptures.”
After a 12-hour work day and a car out of commission, my little sister offered me a ride home and told me I needed to vent …and then maybe we could pray.
Pray? Ha! I had been trying to pray for two days, and all I could get out was tears and the words, “God I don’t want to talk to you. I have nothing to say.”
I agreed to let my sister pick me up. On the ride home she told me, “Girl I saw your face when your mama told you to relax, and I was scared for her. You looked like you wanted to go through her.”
“But I understand how you feel,” she said. “Some days are so hard, the last thing you want to hear is a scripture, because it feels like they don’t apply to you. Like you’re left out. I’ve felt that way before.”
I told my sister everything that I was holding inside. I cussed. I cried. I shook my fists and held my head in my hands until my brows burned from the friction of my palms anxiously rubbing across them. She chimed in every now and then, agreeing with points I made and sharing that she had dealt with some of the same emotions. Then she said, “Okay, let’s pray.”
She prayed, and when it was my turn I let tears and words flow out to God like a seven-year-old telling their dad about a bad day at school. When I was finished, she said, “Your prayers are always so beautiful. Even your angry ones.”
Romans 12:15 instructs us to weep with those who weep, but some of us are so saved we just throw scriptures at those who weep as if empathy is unbiblical.
BREAKING NEWS: EMPATHY IS THE PERFECT VEHICLE TO MINISTRY!
When you weep with those who weep, what you will find on the other end is a heart ready to receive ministry. I think those who weep with others are the perfect vessels of iron. Their words comfort and cut you at the same time, but you don’t mind, because true friends are iron sent by God to sharpen you. My sister sharpened me that night.
The following night I had dinner with a girlfriend who is filled with 51 years of God’s wisdom and love. Every conversation I have with her sharpens me. She thinks she’s normal, I think she’s an angel on earth. Life wasn’t easy for her, so she understands my story. She empathizes when we talk about my childhood, my desires, my struggles. She reminded me to correct my thinking. She reminded me of God’s faithfulness. After a rough childhood, a disloyal husband, abortion, single parenthood, and breast cancer, she still boasts of God’s faithfulness. Her testimony and love for God won my friendship. Her empathy sealed the deal. So when she challenges me to correct my thinking and points me back to God’s word, I listen.
Sister, I challenge you to be iron. Weep with those who weep. Rejoice with those who rejoice. And when you need sharpening, God will send iron.
Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.