I have a friend who is in the middle of a very tough life situation, she and I were talking about this specific concept over the phone last night. In my world, when God takes the time to intentionally confirm an idea, belief, opinion, etc., I pay attention.
I shared with her my “dark nights of the soul,” reminiscing on just how dark, and how painful those times were…but how essential they were to the development of my spiritual depth and newfound hope, in the goodness of God’s plan for my life.
I sat with a sweet family last week at work, I’ve counseled their son for over a year, and honestly, I’ve grown to care very deeply for him. Over the course of our work, I have picked up on a particular theme-his parents commitment to shield and protect him from anything uncomfortable-whether it be a new diagnosis, honesty about their family situation, his grades, etc.
Last Thursday, during a family session, I had the privilege of guiding the three of them through:
(1)acknowledging the pain/confusion
(2)expressing the pain/confusion
(3)empathizing with him in the midst of his pain/confusion
(4)safely exploring what God might be up to by allowing him to experience this pain/confusion.
I believe it was a freeing experience for everyone in the room, myself included!
Our session could have taken a different turn, we could have focused on ways to minimize or even diminish the pain, (and sometimes this is the best option), we could have stayed in the despair (which is often an attractive option for some-think “victim” mentality), but we chose the path towards the abundant hope Larry Crabb describes above.
Let us be a people who do not avoid suffering, but instead, let us choose to persevere in the midst of it!