Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Weight of the World

It’s easy to let pain crush you. We live in a broken world, and, both on and off the mission field, we see wounds that we can only bandage, not heal.

I’ve been reading Henri Nouwen’s Gracias: A Latin American Journal, which records the time he spent in Latin America in the early 1980s, a time of much violence and political and civil unrest. Part of that time he spent in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where our hospital is located. Although Bolivia is considerably more peaceful now than it was then, some of his reflections speak directly to the experience of ministering there – or pretty much anywhere else – even today.

He writes,

As I let all these pains in the lives of my family and friends enter into my heart, I wonder how I could offer true comfort. How could I ever enter into their pain and offer hope from that place? How could I enter into real solidarity with them? But then I slowly realized that I do not have to be like them or to carry their burdens, but that our Lord, my Lord and their Lord, has carried all human burdens and was crushed by them, so that we could receive his Spirit, the comforter.

This is a realization I’m slowly coming to, and that I’m praying to understand more and more. We cannot stand up under the weight of the world, but we don’t have to. Jesus can carry it.

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Paul writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

While we do – and should – try to meet physical needs, ultimately our goal has to be to bring those needs to Jesus. Only he can heal the wounds we all bear, and only he can strengthen us to offer hope to those around us.

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