This week’s post comes to us from Elizabeth Ministry Founder, Jeannie Hannemann.
If you come upon a car accident and discover a woman who is unconscious and bleeding, you will call 911 and give whatever emergency care is possible. But what about those women who have had an emotional or relational accident that has left invisible wounds? Do you notice them? Do you know what to do to help them?
In our culture, most women have become experts at hiding hurts. We can be experiencing a severe trauma and will automatically answer “fine” when asked “How are you?” We need to reach out and hear their stories, share their tears, honor their pain and care about their devastation. God calls us to seek out those who are suffering and offer them comfort.
Comfort My people says your God. Isaiah 40:1
Hope and healing do not come in isolation. It is time to come alongside a suffering sister and be a faithful friend. It starts with looking at the times of pain in your own life story. Identify the strength of character you have gained not “in spite” of your wounds, but “because” of them! In that identity is the foundation of your own wisdom. Offer that wisdom as you join another on the pathway out of hurt and pain.
One of the greatest aspects of being the founder of Elizabeth Ministry has been to have women who have suffered a life tragedy tell me they do not want another woman to suffer a similar situation alone. I have seen women who know the deep agony of infertility go to great lengths to offer support to another who suffers the pain of barrenness. I have witnessed mothers who know the sorrow of miscarriage cradle a newly bereaved woman as she weeps at the death of her baby. I have memories of a mom who raised a child with Downs Syndrome travel miles in a blizzard to support a woman’s choice to maintain a pregnancy after she was told to abort because prenatal testing showed her unborn baby has Downs Syndrome. I have watched strangers become instantly as close as sisters when they share the devastating effects of discovering their husbands are sex addicts. In these types of sharing, I see over and over again the gift that Elizabeth gave to the Blessed Mother, another woman who will understand.
As Good Friday approaches, and we are called to reflect on the passion and death of Jesus, please think about your own times of suffering. Then, unite that pain with Christ’s suffering and experience the blessings of the Resurrection by offering up your pain to help another. The first step is to offer it up in prayers, the second step is to offer it up in action.
What challenging life experience has prepared you to be that shoulder to cry on for someone else? Make your own times of redemptive suffering the starting point for your service to others. Draw upon your own experiences with pain as a resource for empathy to others in need. We all need a point of connection and shared suffering is a powerful instrument of healing. It is in extending the gift of grace gained through suffering that you will find yourself most imaging Christ.