Monday, June 3, 2013

The Fellowship of Suffering

 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.
I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 
so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
~ Philippians 3:10-11, NLT ~

"They're sending up a new patient," I hear one of the nurses say in hushed tones during the wee hours of medicating my child on the med/surg unit.  About 2 hours later, a friend messages me on Facebook that our mutual friend is on the same floor of the hospital with her daughter.  She was that early morning admission they were whispering about.  We are only 4 rooms away from one another, suffering through the sleeplessness of having a hospitalized child.

Through the remainder of the day, we stop in to visit each other, trading the ugly details of how we each ended up having our precious daughters with unique challenges inpatient.  We offer to pick up food or drink for one another when we each run down to the first floor cafe.  My daughter, who is  walking the floors with her IV to keep from developing secondary pneumonia, stops in to see her daughter every so often.  

Our mutual friend, also the mother of children with special needs, stops in to pay a visit later that morning.  The 3 of us share dark humor, laughter with pained eyes, and opinions on various doctors and school experiences.  In the insanity of the moment, it suddenly feels like it will all be okay, because we mothers share the fellowship of suffering.

There is nothing like walking the special needs journey with another parent who understands.  In a rare moment like this where more than one of us is in the same facility experiencing life's trials side-by-side, there is a little more light in the darkness.  Our anguish seems lessened because we are sharing it together.  

"Gee," my friend remarks, "Most girlfriends just meet for coffee!"

How can you not trade your worry for laughter when a friend says something like that?

Mutual understanding and mutual concern for one another clear us of the isolation and self-absorption that can too easily set up residence at times like these.  What is so amazing is that this experience can be available to any of us, any time we walk through these trials, because we have a Savior who "gets it".  Jesus has our backs as we keep our eyes and hearts focused on him.

I'm so grateful to experience "Jesus with skin on" when other friends empathize with my journey.  It lightens the burden, makes me feel much more accepted, normalizes the very chaotic, and throws me a lifeline when I'm at the end of my rope.  My only hope is that I can provide the same for every other parent I come into contact with who walks that same path.

PRAY:  Lord, thank you for the fellowship of suffering.  How graciously you promise us that if we share in your sufferings, we will also share in your glory!
 
Photo Courtesy of Captured: Photo by Becky

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