Moments after writing yesterday's prayer post on great losses, I was getting ready for church. I found myself imagining a friend asking me when they saw me in person, how I had made it through the past few days, with the passing of friends. It didn't take long to realize the answer was pretty simple. On a personal level, there was a distance factor.
Thursday's funeral for my wife's cousin... not that the relationship couldn't have been significantly closer in nature, but let's start with the simple fact, that, for me, it didn't exist until I met my wife. So there's that.
The gentleman from church... even there, depending on the size of the church, you can only know so many people to varying degrees of depth of friendship and closeness. And even if you do know everyone, life's schedule doesn't permit you to have strong, close-nit ties, where you spend considerable amounts of time together. So while, from the sounds of it, this is one guy many will have wished they knew better, as it stands, I did not.
As for the friend, Saturday morning... once again, incredibly tragic. And yet, a good long physical distance away, the friendship existed because of mutual friends. Those two factors alone keep me... well, suffice to say, in all 3 circumstances, while difficult and tragic, I mourn with family and friends for as an observer, which you'll agree is a very different place than if it were my brother, child, wife or parent.
Having very strong and healthy relationships with all the aforementioned, I would be as devastated as I have observed the past few days. And if that's not an understatement of the century, I don't know what is.
Say all that to say... how do pastors do it? Hundreds of families each week, lives in the thousands impacted and the news never ends. Stories of serious health problems, cancer and otherwise. Relational breakdowns. Impending divorce. Financial ruin. Job loss. Wayward children Disconcerting situations with friends in unhealthy places.
The joyful moments, of gainful employment, engagements to be married, healing and restorations, birth announcements... all seem so less frequent by comparison. And as a Pastor, there is more often a greater relational bond for each circumstance; for these are part of your community that you are spiritually responsible for... to look after and preach and counsel the Word of God into their lives.
I can't fathom, for even this past weeks' news as an observer, even for the two battling cancer, where you knew the potential for the outcome was possible and perhaps closer than desired, was difficult to hear... in a heart-breaking "Seriously? Please tell me it's not true" kind of way. It is... and the grace and wisdom needed for Pastor to help in the process and point people to Christ in the hopes of keeping our focus on Him and a proper perspective on the circumstance, is substantial to say the least.
Thus, pray this #seniorPastorMonday, for those pastors struggling with the onslaught of seemingly "bad news" of tragedy, loss and suffering. May their be a covering as they minister; that there would a be a peace that surpasses all understanding; that they would possess a calmness and a comfort as they share in conversation. Pray for the miraculous, that in whatever the circumstance, people would be pointed and redirected to the person of Jesus Christ; that many would find rest for their souls as they place their hope and trust in the hands of Almighty and Sovereign God. Pray that Pastors would have their ears atuned to the Spirit; to give proper guidance, a timely word, Biblical instruction and wise counsel as they speak the truth in love and with grace. May their spirits be strengthened and renewed as they help others through the battles of life, often setting their own battles aside in the process. May God help them in theirs, as they help others first.
For the glory of God
Who works ALL things together for GOOD
For those who LOVE HIM and are CALLED
According to HIS purpose.
In Christ Jesus name, we pray.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.