2020-02-18 - Walking Together
Proverbs 17:17 (Tree of Life Version)
When Richard was paralyzed with Guillaine-Barre Syndrome during 2016, he had to spend all his time either in his wheelchair or his hospital bed. For many months, he was unable to walk, and he could not even move his legs. Every day, I would move his legs for him, to exercise them. Twice a week, his Physical Therapist (PT) would come by and give his muscles a good workout. He taught us exercises that we could do while Richard was lying in bed, to strengthen the muscles so that they would be ready when the Myelin Sheath grew back (It grows at a rate of only 1 millimeter per day!).
During all these sessions, our dog Shiloh would lie up on the sofa beside me, observing the session. She wanted to see what was going on, but she never got in the way. Then, one morning, the world suddenly changed! His PT was very skillesd at knowing the perfect timeline for each step of recovery - and one day, the PT decided that it was time for Richard to try walking slowly, moving his legs, with a walker! When Shiloh saw her "Daddy" taking two steps, she jumped down off the sofa and bounded over to him. She would walk up and down the halls with him, during his therapy sessions. This still moves me to tears, to think about it! She wanted to be by his side, walking together with him, as he made his way back to normal walking.
We should be like that, in the body of Christ. If we know someone who is dealing with something difficult, we need to be walking with them through the situation, as they are strengthened physically, emotionally, spiritually or financially.
Sometimes this means just asking how someone is. Hopefully, we will receive an honest answer, and if we are given the privilege of providing a "listening ear," we need to listen, listen, listen - and only rarely say something. As we were taught in Stephen Ministry training, people NEED to tell their story. They may need to tell it more than once; in fact, they may need to tell it over and over and over. It is therapeutic.
Sometimes walking with our friends and family means providing practical help. Perhaps you know someone who have an illness and cannot work right now. If they are not receiving sick leave pay, perhaps you can help with paying a bill or buying groceries until they are back on their feet again. If you are like me, some of your friends are proud and don't want to accept help. For these people, I have learned to be sneaky! For example, one time, I put grocery gift cards in the choir book of a friend at church who was struggling to provide for her family. This saved her the embarrassment of facing the "donor," and I was blessed by the look of relief on her face, when she opened her choir book.
Sometimes, it means giving "respite" to a caregiver, staying with a patient while the caregiver gets out and about for a couple hours. Now some of us, like myself, don't WANT that and would refuse it, but I did appreciate friends who were on "standby" for Richard when I HAD to leave, such as going to the grocery store or drug store.
At other times, people are unable to go on their usual errands, and it can be very helpful to have someone pick up items at a store, library, dry cleaner or other places.
You get the picture, and I am quite sure that you all can think of even more examples! This is what the church is to be doing! Those of us who do have resources are always to help those who are going through difficulties - whether those resources are emotional, physical or financial.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NRSV) 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help.
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All verses are from the New American Standard Version (NASB) unless otherwise noted.