Thursday, March 16, 2006

Pastoral Advice

Suffering is pain without meaning. Anyone with sense avoids suffering. The old religious idea of searching for suffering is for wimps and nutcases.

Pain with meaning comes our way whether we are believers or not.

I have advice for those in pain.

Read the Psalms. Get a translation of the Psalms which makes sense to you. If King James English reads clearly to you, go with that translation. Otherwise, I suggest looking for a contemporary translation.

The Psalms are full of people whose physical and emotional pain will resonate with yours. When I am physically sick, the Psalms reassure me that my human pain is not unusual. When I am in emotional distress, the Psalms discuss being threatened, harmed, assailed by evil doers (great language, huh?) and feeling lower than a snake's belly in a wheel rut. I don't feel alone when I read the Psalms.

I have a family member who is suffering. There is no meaning to this pain. It is hideous. No way to avoid the pain. No escape or end in sight to what this person has to deal with in a rotten, painful situation. None of it is his fault. He is not responsible for it but suffers all the same.

This family member's pain is tied up with a community's anguish and there is no escape.

Read the Psalms. Look for God's help. There is no one on earth who can transform our misery, hold it, listen to us and offer comfort the way God does.

I'm standing close to this family member. I love him. I would fight all the armies in the world and take on the Dark One himself for this person. He is coping with family issues I can't even imagine knowing about outside the pages of a novel.

Life is tough. God is available. Love heals. Hope is what we hold onto. Just keep moving forward.

St. Casserole (who loves you)


Songbird said...

Thank you for these strong words of comfort.
Today at a meeting, a layman had the responsibility for the devotional, something he feels awkward doing because he is sitting around the table with clergy. He talked about how no matter what the changes in our culture and our technology, one thing never changes. "46:10" he said, referring to the Psalm. "Be still and know that I am God."
One thing never changes.

Susan Rose, CSJP said...

When my mom was dying and I was going through hell, the advice I got from my pastor was "Read the Psalms ... those ancient people felt a lot of the things you're feeling right now."

It helped ... a lot.

The funny thing is I just quoted that back at my old pastor the other day. He's got a sick family member and is going through it all himself.

Patti said...

I have been praying the Psalms as part of my Lenten discipline. At first I thought some of them weren't relevant to me because I have no enemies who want me dead. God helped me understand that I have enemies within propensity to sin. I'm taking great comfort in the Psalms, and in my time with God while praying them.

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

I love the Psalms. Lately, to get through the pain, I read them outloud as a prayer and the tears come. The calm always follows if only for a little while.

seawitch said...

I hope your family member finds peace and resolution soon. The advice to read Pslams is a good one.

G-ds love to you and yours. I'll be praying for y'all.

Texas Jaye said...

I am going to my Bible now. I want to learn to be more forgiving and less self-critical.

Today in therapy I learned that I "self-indulge my self criticism." I am going to need some help with that. I also learned that I criticize myself before others can do it. (As if they would.)

If God made me, who am I to wound his creation?

Psalms, here I come.

Marie said...

I've just discovered the Psalms. Good stuff. Still having a hard time with the smiting of the enemies, although there are days...

Praying for you...