Tuesday, February 9, 2010


"You listen to the longings of those who suffer. You offer them hope, and you pay attention to their cries for help." (Psalm 10:17, CEV)

I did it again the other night -- The classic "over-share". I said a little too much about how our son was doing and about what life was like with him on that challenging day.

Shortly after our baby was diagnosed, my husband and I shared a reaction that we began to detect when chatting with people. We both noticed how someone would ask how the baby was doing, but then would glaze-over when we started sharing sincerely from our hearts. It was hurtful at a time when we just needed someone to listen and let us talk through our grief. Their demeanor belied their words. Though they asked how we were doing, their behavior made it seem that they really didn't care.

We had the great fortune of having a social worker available to us as part of our son's comprehensive care. When we shared with her how disheartening it was trying to discuss our son's hemophilia with anyone outside of our medical providers, she mentioned that they might be suffering from a type of "compassion fatigue". She said that it probably wasn't that they didn't care, but that they had heard so much and didn't know how to help. It was then that she talked to us about building a good support network where we could share our trials and griefs with others who would listen and understand. Little did we know then that this type of support would take years to build.

Certainly, you've been there too. The sting of people who dismiss what you are saying or can't find time enough to hear your challenges, only adds to the weight of what you carry. In this day and age, the saying "TMI" (standing for "too much information") indicates that the listener has heard much more than they care to. It shuts down the one speaking and quickly extracts anyone who would be forced to listen to them. Every parent who faces the ups and downs of caring for a child with special needs has experienced the TMI reaction, leaving them feeling isolated from time to time.

The great news of hope is that there is One who will never tire of listening to us! Without much digging, I can easily cite at least 15 verses in the Bible that describe how God listens to us. Isn't it amazing that the Creator of the entire Universe even considers listening to little, ol' us?! No problem of ours is too big or too small for Him to be concerned about. He cares so deeply for us and shares our burdens. In fact, He not only listens but also empathizes! In Hebrews 4:15 we hear how He was like us in every way except for sin, so He knows all about our troubles. We can pour out our hearts to Him anytime, anywhere and know that He is close to us.

If you're anything like me, sometimes you need a little more than a God you are unable to see, feel or hear in the physical realm. He is so loving and gracious that He knows our limitations and deep need for relationship with others. So in His infinite mercy, He brings others who we can connect with. He often does His work through these people. We need to do our part. The Lord isn't going to magically produce someone to stand in our bedroom as we lay there in fetal position feeling sorry for ourselves. But if we put a little effort into it, we can find ourselves blessed with others who are walking the same road and need someone to listen also. Sometimes these friends can end up being the lifeline we need when we are at the absolute end of our ropes because they have been there. They get it. And while they will pray in faith with us and point us to God's word, they will also joke at the repugnant and recognize our frustrations.

What an awesome Savior we have! He did not make us to bear our burdens alone, but hears our every cry for help. He is a relational God and not one of putting on a false happy face. He allows us no burden that He will not help us to bear. And when we need to be heard, the thoughts springing from our hearts are never TMI to Him! 

~ Barb Dittrich

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