Dear Fellow Man,
You don’t know who I am. You don’t see me as I walk past you on the way inside the supermarket. My hair is tangled but at least my clothes are clean. My eyes are focused on some distant place and I don’t meet your wandering glance. I am flanked by a gaggle of young children, all bright-eyed, quiet, and observant. And you wonder, briefly, as you walk past, why I look familiar.
You spare me a second glance as I settle on a bench alongside you. I busy myself with a book I spread on my lap, but if you look closer, you’ll notice I haven’t turned the page in too long and that my erratic pulse is visible in the line of my neck. My bookmark – a folded piece of notebook paper – flutters from between the pages to the ground before I can snatch it up. If you squint, maybe you’ll be able to make out the desperate words scrawled on it.
Parked in the car next to mine, waiting for the light to turn green, maybe you notice the way I jerk when a police car speeds past, sirens wailing, lights flashing. Maybe you notice the way I hold my throat and breathe out a whispered prayer of thanks – thanks that it wasn’t me. You don’t know where my thoughts have gone or the memories that have been stirred up by that hated sound. When an ambulance follows, and tears fill my eyes, you’ve already looked away and my car is lost in the speed, the noise, the sounds of another day.
And you don’t care.
Because your mortgage bill hasn’t been paid and your spouse is divorcing you. Your friend is dying of a terminal illness and the stock market has crashed again. Your children seem to hate you and the world is out to get you. I am just another soul that is suffering and you are too blinded by your own pain to see.
This is the world we live in today.
The news of yet another attack, of yet another shooting, washes over us in a numb wave. Do we have any words left to describe our anguish, our confusion? So many deaths, so much suffering. And everyone is hanging on, just trying to make it through another pain-filled day.
I’ve seen a lot of tragedy in my young life. Probably more than what could be considered a fair share. I saw two of my brothers buried. I spent a year of my life in foster care. I know what it is to go without electricity, to count pennies for food. I watched my parents lose their jobs and watched our car get towed away for lack of payment. I experienced the humiliating confusion of being thrown out onto the streets. I sat in a court building eagerly waiting to hear the verdict of my father’s negligent homicide case. I have wept over lost family members. And I’ve borne judgment, persecution, rejection, spitefulness, and accusations by people I never imagined could want to hurt me.
I know what it is to suffer. Believe me.
Being raised in a Christian household, I was taught to give all my cares, all my burdens, all my pain and anguish to the Lord. When I found myself in foster care the first time (it happened twice, much to my horror) it was this teaching that I clung to when I was curled on the bathroom floor of a stranger’s house, weeping for homesickness. When I was older, and we faced eviction for a second time, it was this instruction that I remembered.
And it crossed my mind that life would have been unbearable if I didn’t have God to turn to. What do people do when they are broken and hurt and in need of comfort? This question baffled me as a teenager, before I was aware of the kinds of vices that grip people in pain. It seemed amazing to me that people could live without Him. What words escaped their lips when they were groaning with pain? If it wasn’t, dear God, help me, then what was it?
Can you tell me, dear fellow man?
We live in a fallen world and we are surrounded by broken people. We have turned our backs on the God we pledged our hearts and lives to and have relied upon our own strength to save us – and we haven’t been saved. We have searched for hope and we haven't found it - because there can never be any hope for us outside of Jesus Christ.
He is hope embodied. It was Him I turned to in the darkest moments of my life. Even if it was just His name that I could barely form with my trembling lips, it was enough. Corrie Ten Boom, a great veteran in the realm of sufferers, said, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” This was something I had to learn over and over again. I sometimes feel I am still learning it. Because the suffering goes on and the trials don’t cease.
But God remains.
If you, fellow man, are broken and overwhelmed by the adversity that has confronted you... if you can barely manage to face the days – much less the nights – because of your anguish, then know this: There is only one who can save you. There is only one way out. There is only one Comforter.
He can take all the pain and trials of your life and give them purpose. He can bring you through the storm and take you by the hand and hold you close when the world is spinning all around you. He can touch your heart – your broken, bruised, bloody heart – and heal the wounds that have tormented you. He will be your family when you have none. He will be your friend when you are alone. He will carry you when you have no more strength to go on.
This is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died for our sins and came to bring us salvation.
It is true that we will suffer on this earth. We must understand that. There is no way of getting out of it. But we can choose whether we suffer alone, or whether we suffer with a King at our side, who knows what we are going through and who longs to carry us through. I wouldn’t say that walking with Jesus is easy. There is a cross to bear. But walking without Him is unfathomable.
If you, dear fellow man, are broken, rest assured, you are not alone. We all carry hidden pain – the kind we can hardly bear to speak of. But what do you do with that pain? Where do you take it? I pray that from now on, you would always think of Christ. That you would remember there is one who loves you, even when no one else does. There is one who longs to comfort you, heal you, and save you from the despair that is drowning you. His name is Jesus. And all you must do is turn to Him – turn to Him with your broken heart, your scarred soul, and let Him gather you in His arms and wash away the pain.
Trust Him to do it – and He will.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelations 21:4
Ruth is a twenty-one year old memoirist, writer, and blogger. She lives in Puerto Rico with her family. To read more of her work, visit her blog, Ruth, Writer.
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