When I heard a knock at the door, it seemed like an odd day and strange hour to have a visitor. As the only American in a small Croatian village, I became the target of local gypsies. They believed my nationality made me a millionaire and completely ignorant of their gypsy culture, beliefs, and humanitarian methods of manipulation. Though they were mistaken about my bank account, and I was a bit educated about their culture, it only took five seconds of looking into the sunken eyes of their pregnant women, or muddy-cheeked little children, and my hands would be filled with temporary gifts that would never meet their true hunger or thirst.
Then a familiar voice sounded from the other side of the door, “Šanana, it’s me.” The pastor’s wife, Božica, had become a precious friend to me and she spoke enough English to help forge a strong bond between us. I knew it was very unusual for her to be dropped off at my apartment, but I didn’t question it since I had been sick and was in great pain from the herniated discs in my neck.
She brought in homemade soup, had me lay back down on the couch, and like a child with its mother, sat next to me and stroked my hair while I hurt. Then the phone rang…
The words that came from the other end sent my heart into a furious rhythm. To this day, being so unravelled by the news, I cannot remember who called me from the states. In only a few months, I had already experienced the pain of being separated from my best friend when she lost her adopted child back to the parent, then learned of another friend being diagnosed with a brain tumor, then a personal situation surfaced with my mother, and now this…a violent, brutal rape of a friend back home, who had become the most connected prayer partner I’d ever experienced. She would pray for me each morning and receive a special scripture, or word of knowledge, or wisdom that made it seem like she was my roommate, despite being separated by ocean and countries. This is why my friend had come to my apartment…to help bring companionship and comfort for the news I was about to hear.
It is one thing when we experience pain and suffering that happens to us personally, but when someone we love or deeply care about gets hit, the overwhelming sense of helplessness and agonizing frustration of distance and separation, is an entirely different wound. It stirred an immeasurable, indescribable amount of emotions that made my heart feel like it was going to explode. And due to physical restrictions and limitations, I could only weep outwardly, while inwardly I threw an emotional tantrum only God could see and hear.
One thing the news cannot report, and no study can reveal, is the amount of hearts that are hemorrhaging from being ripped separate from family and loved ones who are suffering in these times…or actually passing from this life to the next. But it is happening. All across the globe.
When we are journeying through the murky night and the dark woods of affliction and sorrow, it is something to find here and there a spray broken, or a leafy stem bent down with the tread of His foot and the brush of His hand as He passed; and to remember that the path He trod He has hallowed, and thus to find lingering fragrance and hidden strength in the remembrance of Him as “in all points tempted like as we are,” bearing grief for us, bearing grief with us, bearing grief like us.
The focus of MacLaren’s quote is where I began to find comfort, and where I have learned to return, every time I feel helpless and want to break laws and cause problems, just to reach someone who is too far away. But just as my friend came before I would get my phone call, the Holy Spirit, as well as angels (if need be – Hebrews 1:14), are sent from heaven to help us; to strengthen, comfort, speak truth, give wisdom, and guide us straight into the heart of God the Father.
But He’s not only close to the broken-hearted; He longs to hear from us those pleads and prayers to dispatch divine resources and help those we love that are out of our reach. He wants us to trust that He can do more through His Holy Spirit that can be with them, than we could if we were right there in the flesh.
Look at this from Psalm 139:7-12, “Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Hand-holding? He is able. “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you’ Isaiah 41:13. Whether a bed on a boat, in a bunker, or in a hospital; God is there. Whether night or day, foreign country or distant state, His Spirit is not limited, blocked, or inaccessible, in any way, to any person.
“…bearing grief for us, bearing grief with us, bearing grief like us.” Every red-hot tear that someone sheds today, can be caught and kept by the bloodshed love of a Savior that understands and writes about that tear in His own journal. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 NLT
I’ve prayed for anyone who reads this, that you can experience that same comfort that He sent my way when I needed it most. That you can receive the help you need for your aching heart and can reach others across the miles through your prayers and “groans which cannot be uttered” yet God understands. And that your soul can rest inwardly, more than this enforced outward stillness. This too shall pass…
James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.“
2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”
Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.”