While watching a video clip of a young person, that has been served by one of my coworkers in Seattle, all I could think about is the pain he went through to discover the purpose of God in his life. The pain of abuse and neglect by the people he should have been able to trust the most. The pain of growing up too fast in an unfair situation that he had been placed in. The pain of losing a friend due to unnecessary violence in the inner city and the affect it had on his purpose.
My heart was broken to hear what he had to say about being hit by his ex-stepfather, watching his mother leave without knowing where she was going and wondering if she would come back, and many other details that have influenced and are influencing his path. The problem is, his is not the only story like this and there are some that have even more gruesome details. However, this does not negate the pain he has felt, in fact, I think it makes it even more beautiful.
The fact of the matter is we all feel pain in life. It is a necessary evil, but it cannot overtake us. This young man was able to share that he has discovered an incredible strength in Christ that has allowed him to pull through the pain and hardship and move forward in his pursuit of being an agent of change. God is being glorified in the perseverance of this young saint. There have been mentors that have stepped up and walked with him in his journey to assist him in uncovering his God-given potential centered in the joy of Christ. What an astounding and amazing message of hope and glory in the one true and living God!
I sit and wonder what if the mentors did not come? What if he continued on his path of destruction and no one stepped up to fill the void of a role model in this young man’s life? All too often this is the case and so many young people, even adults, are left to flounder on their own trying to survive. The pain is too much and they settle for false gods, false relief (i.e. drugs, alcohol, etc.), false family, or worse, giving up on life altogether. It is evident, through Scripture that the Church has a role to play in guiding people in their pain. Loving people through their struggle is what Christ did and how God is reconciling His creation back to himself.
The problem is when we help people through their pain we come close or closer to our own, perhaps that is why we avoid it? If the Church was to approach people with more than just an “I will be praying for you” or “Bless his/her heart” and really interact with the people in their current circumstance, that would mean the Church would have to acknowledge her pain. This is dangerous, but necessary. When followers of Christ are unable to admit their brokenness, address their skeletons, and tackle their demons, then the reconciliation process is hindered. However, when we reconcile people to the Lord, who is more than their pain, we help them see the pain we have embraced ourselves and allowed Christ to conquer. That is when God’s glory is visible and His powerful name is known!
Well, this makes sense to me…kind of.