Listening

Listening

I listened to a story, shared by a hurting person wounded by circumstances out of their control. The details were painful to listen to, they always are. Worse is knowing the next several years for them are going to be rough. Healing always is. I can only hope (and pray) they choose to make wise choices—aka choosing God and His ways instead of getting stuck in anger or avoiding the pain with sinful behaviors. Because in order to really heal, every day they’re going to need to consciously choose Jesus and His ways. It’s hard enough when you’re not traumatized.

Listening, my mind tracked another train of thought. Every one of us has a story, and many of them are tragic. A tragic story has a trauma of some sort, unique to each individual, like fingerprints, like snowflakes. It’s the details that make it so painful for each individual. So much is out of our control, even our initial response to it, for each awful experience is seen through wide eyes that are freshly absorbing new circumstances and details, trying to understand and make sense of things through each stage of life. So much that happens, good or bad, is still a surprise no matter how old we get.

Multiply all these tragedies and all the unique details in all the billions of people throughout the centuries, and wow—God has seen it all. He’s listened to millions and billions of these stories. He knew the moment Eve bit into that apple, it was all coming. And He knew the aftermath, the pain, the brokenness, the choices to come moment by moment when sin beckons to bind the wounds so raw. “Choose Jesus,” I silently whispered from the depths of my soul as the details unraveled. “Choose to heal, choose to grow, choose life!”

As I continued to listen, I wanted, with every unhealthy bone in my body, to protect that person I was listening to, to fix them. Immediately, I thought of how God wanted to protect us, all of us, over the centuries. How He gave us so much, and we turned our backs on it and wanted to be our own gods, do it our way, even though tragedies were coming, and some of them of our own making. How He sent the prophets to warn us, and how we killed so many of them. How He gave us His Word and we don’t read it nearly enough, or take it to heart as much as we could. How He sent His Son, who sat alone on a hill, watching us, knowing we would kill Him, grieving as His death loomed closer, longing to gather us to Himself like a mother hen gathers her chicks.

And there I found comfort. In that moment as I listened I was sitting beside Him on the hill overlooking Jerusalem, or perhaps He sat beside me, right then, in that room. He heard their cries, He heard my prayer. He knew, He knows. I couldn’t fix that dear, hurting soul in front of me, but if they choose Him, if they trust Him with the pieces of their broken heart and the sins of others that have wounded them, and their own sins, too, they will be okay. Because Jesus did die, for them, so that no matter how bad it gets, there is forgiveness to receive, and forgiveness to give, and a powerful Holy Spirit to bring wisdom and healing. That trauma Jesus endured, God allowed that, just as He allows the traumas in our lives, but not without redemption or hope or a future that pales in comparison to the brokenness of this world. Jesus conquered that trauma. It didn’t break Him, He broke it! It had no power over Him! He conquered death—and not just His own but yours and mine—everyone who chooses Him can have eternal life where they will be free from trauma for eternity!

In His all-powerful strength, I rest. He welcomes me to sit beside Him, close by Him. I lean my head against His shoulder, grateful for His love and comfort and compassion. He listens to the tragedies with me. He prays with me for their souls. And He is more capable of healing them than I will ever be. I pray that someday this person will sit there, too, and know that peace and have that rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

by Jill Cristao, Director of Connections Ministries