Monday, October 21, 2013

A Mile in Our Shoes

Let us, then, hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we have a great High Priest who has gone into the very presence of God—Jesus, the Son of God. Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. Let us have confidence, then, and approach God's throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.
~ Hebrews 4:14-16, GNT ~

"Honey, I went into a meeting this morning with my boss, and...  I lost my job."

Words can barely explain the feeling that hits a person when they hear this from their spouse, especially if that spouse is the main breadwinner in the household.  Life as you know it is up-ended.  Your mind races to a million horrible places that it should never go -- "How will we pay the bills?  What if we lose the house?  Will we be able to afford adequate health insurance, especially for our child?".  Fears that you could never anticipate eschew forth from children's mouths -- "Promise me this doesn't mean that you will get divorced like Johnny's parents did!  Will we lose our pets?  Can we still drive our car or do I have to walk everywhere now?"  There are sad faces and downcast eyes when the children have to be told "no" at their request to buy some small treat that currently doesn't qualify as an absolute necessity.  The stress can literally be debilitating if you allow it to be.  It is hard to push on and take the next step, living life as usual. 

This past week we returned to this extremely difficult life scenario as my husband joined the millions of Americans who are without a job.  I say returned because we have been down this road several times before.  Our prayer is that we will better glorify the Lord this time around and not find our hope and trust in Him fading. 

Early in this journey, I am much encouraged.  Allow me to share with you why.  They say, "No one understands like a person who has walked a mile in your shoes."  How true!  In fact, this is largely why we have found value in developing our Parent Mentor Program.  I have seen this truth lived out by how my husband has treated other men who find themselves between jobs over the years.  Because he has endured the pain, the ego-bruising, and the anxiety of unemployment in the past, my husband has remarkable compassion for other guys facing this challenge.  We women don't seem to have a good grasp of what men feel when they go through this type of trial, so it warms my heart to see my husband reach out as only another male can. 

The day after word got out that my beloved had been pink-slipped, our house became another Grand Central Station.  First came a visitor who had faced losing his job a number of years ago.  He commiserated with my husband about the immense weight a man feels when he perceives himself as being unable to provide for his family.  After he and his wife had left, men whom my husband had supported or encouraged through similar circumstances stopped by one after another for an impromptu visit.  

It took my breath away as I witnessed what God was doing.  He was sending through our door the knowledge that He is present with us in the darkness of our news.  Having men who had walked a mile in my husband's shoes pay a comforting visit was the Lord's tangible sign to us that He cares about us in the midst of our crisis.  And through these visits He also proved the truth in His word from Proverbs 11:25, "A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." (NIV)  This promise was certainly not why my husband ever extended mercy, listening time and a pat on the back to others, but it is an assuring comfort when the Holy Spirit reminds us of it in our time of need.

After the doorbell had stopped ringing, it suddenly occurred to me that even without this stream of fellow sojourners coming through our door, there is another Person who has walked a mile in our shoes.  In Matthew 8:20 (NLV), "Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes. Birds have nests. But the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.'"  He didn't have a paying job the last 3 years of his life.  He didn't know where he would sleep, eat, live.  His walk fully relied on the provision of Jehovah Jireh.  And because He has walked a mile in our shoes, and went through all of that human uncertainty, Jesus is fully reliable to cling to during these times we face.

What comfort!  Jesus gets it.  So even if the road gets long and the visits or encouraging words from friends are few, we have a Savior who has walked a mile in our shoes.  With only the whisper of our heart's concerns, He is at our side to help us get through.

PRAY:  Lord, every good and perfect gift comes from You.  Because You suffered like us in every way, yet didn't succumb to the sins that our self-pity engenders, You have made a path for us to boldly claim those gifts when all hope seems lost.  Thank You for caring about our every need.  Like the birds of the air or the flowers of the field we can live peacefully knowing that you will not abandon us.

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