What do you do when someone you care about is hurting? Maybe you have a friend struggling with debilitating anxiety or a family member sinking further into depression. Maybe you have a neighbor grieving an untimely death. Or you see a woman in the Starbucks begging table to table for rent money. Or you live in a city wounded by senseless gun violence. Deep within us is an urge to help. And yet sometimes we have no idea what to do.

Let me first say, I don’t know. That’s the honest truth. I don’t know. What I do know is that Jesus healed people. But not always in the same way. Sometimes he touched them with his hands. Sometimes he kept his distance but said “Take up your mat and walk”. With one woman who had been sick for 12 years, Jesus didn’t even know what happened but somehow out of the blue she reached out and touched the hem of his garment and instantly her bleeding stopped. Sometimes Jesus listened. Other times he instructed his disciples to do something. On one occasion he wept. Jesus didn’t have a one-size-fits-all healing formula.

What I hear in Jesus’ reaction to the pain of those around him is a deep sense of compassion. And a willingness to come alongside those who were burdened with pain. Jesus did not avoid or change the subject. He entered into the wilderness with those who were hurt by physical, spiritual, emotional, and societal illness. He was tender. And he was not above the pain but a participant in human frailty. He healed, not as a magician or as a distant ruler. He was never the “know it all.” Rather he entered into the human depravity with his own flesh and blood. “My God my God why have you forsaken me” Jesus prayed. Because in his own life, he experienced the sadness of alienation.

There are plenty of advice-givers among us. The surgeon general has issued an advisory on the loss of social fabric and the epidemic of loneliness, urging us all to weave a tapestry of friendship. The spiritual gurus teach us prayer and meditation. The physicians prescribe exercise. The politicians push programmatic reforms. A host of books and podcasts guide us to reflect deeply and retrain our neural pathways. One size does not fit all. When the healing path eludes us, we relate to Paul who wrote “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words”. (Roman’s 8: 26-27)

During Lent, we are summoned to reflect on who we are, and where we are going with our lives. It’s a spiritual cleansing. It is not a time to berate oneself. Rather it is a time to look up and see that Christ is our constant companion. Jesus came among us to love us, to walk alongside us, to heal our wounded souls, to sit with us in the human predicament. From this spot of vulnerability, healing begins.

Grace and Peace,


PS:  I hope to see you at the Celebration! Evening and Auction on Friday, March 1.  Members have donated very generous and creative items!  See details below.