Opinion | Discipleship

Sitting in the Dark, Waiting for Emmanuel

Instead of fixing people's pain, maybe the most Christian act of love is to sit beside them, and wait.

A few months ago, my friend Stephanie's grandma was diagnosed with a brain tumor. In spite of brain surgery and chemotherapy, the tumor has grown, and her grandma is now on hospice. When I had coffee with Stephanie recently, I asked her when she'd seen her grandma last. She told me it had been a few weeks. She said it was too overwhelming to see her grandma suffering and not be able to intervene.

"I don't know what to do, so I don't do anything," she said. "What do you think?"

I have not faced anything as serious as what Stephanie's family is going through, but I've had similar questions about a family of Somali refugees I've been working with here in Portland. Sometimes I'm encouraged by how far they've come, and other times I'm discouraged by how far they still have to go. Sometimes I'm so overwhelmed, I avoid visiting the family because it's too difficult to engage in a problem that I cannot solve completely.

And then I think about something my mom likes to say, that God made us human ...

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