Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Comforting Others in Times of Pain

Usually when someone we know is going through pain or experiencing crisis, we try to point out the positive and encourage them that things will somehow get better.

But I have realized that this natural approach is very deeply flawed.

Often, trying to make a painful situation better or more simple than it seems to be just causes an incredible amount of harm. Saying things like "it's all going to be ok" or "look on the bright side..." or "it could be worse" to someone who has experienced loss, is facing huge trials in life, is struggling with emotional issues, etc, is actually very detrimental and even unkind. We mean well when we say things like this, but all it usually does is delegitimize the problem, dismiss the emotions of who we are attempting to comfort, and ultimately eliminate the possibility of effectively helping that person through whatever it is they are dealing with.

Sometimes it's best to know that nothing can be said to make things better and just validate and support that person, let them experience deep emotions, as upsetting as they may be and just show them through your presence and willingness to listen that even if it doesn't get better right away or even at all that you care and are in it with them for the long haul. Sometimes all you can do is just listen but actually that often is all you need to in order to give what they need from you at that moment.

In life, it's not always going to get better, things may never be easier, and deep wounds usually really can't be mended by time. But we can always become stronger people, better friends, and develop a deeper capacity to love. And in the end love and compassion, NOT making things better or easier, is what really ends up accomplishing that.

Meme: Annoying Evangelism

I just made this meme to express my general annoyance with street evangelism, or any method of attempting to share one's faith that is otherwise irritating or socially awkward. Typical models of evangelism often do not resonate with society and cause more harm than good. At least in my very humble opinion.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Lord and the Leper: Healing of the Whole Person

On impulse, I just started rereading the gospel of Mark, and I realized something. I think my favorite stories of Christ's earthly ministry is when he heals lepers. This happens multiple times throughout the accounts of all the gospel writers, and are always incredibly moving. But there is more going on than the sheer awe of miraculous healing.

Lepers were not only physically diseased and utterly cast out of general society as a result, but were also cut off from worship at the temple due to ritual uncleanliness. In first century Palestine, the temple was the heart of the people; that was how they knew God. So having leprosy meant being completely cut off from both human society and, in the mind of the first century Jew, God himself. By healing a leper, Jesus allowed them not only to become healthy again, but also to enter back into fellowship with God and man. That's why Jesus always quickly tells a leper he has healed to immediately go to the temple priest
When Jesus healed a leper he not only restored them to physical health and wholeness, but also healed and redeemed them spiritually, emotional, relationally and socially.
This is just one example (among many many others) of the fact that when Jesus heals someone, it is always holistic. He cares about and changes the entirety of a person. This all moves me with incredible awe and deeper appreciation of Christ and how he interacted and continues to interact with his people.
Ok, now I'm going to go back to reading.