Share Your Peace with Someone Who Needs It
The weirdest things steal our peace.
A snarky boss or coworker.
A family fight.
How about sickness and pain? Like severe nausea. Have you ever thrown up so much you couldn’t hold your head up? That is a huge thief of peace for me.
When my stomach is sideways, it’s hard to keep the gospel of peace on my feet. I want the nausea to stop. Now. I remember a time when it wouldn’t stop for months.
During my pregnancy, years ago, we barely knew our baby existed before the vomiting started. Everyone shared their favorite pregnancy nausea tips with me.
But how do you swallow 7Up and crackers when you can’t keep your own spit down?
Sadly, my first obstetrician was young and foolish. “The nausea starts in your head because you don’t want to be pregnant.” (Not true) Even more sadly, my husband and I were also young and foolish. We bought into that conversation for months. I was certain that I wanted this baby but was too weak to argue. Night and day, I threw up every 20 minutes or so. In between I’d try to munch ice, but nothing stayed down. I spent weeks in the hospital receiving IV’s and lost 30 pounds.
During my third hospitalization I became depressed. I worried about my sweet baby. How could it survive all this? I withdrew into myself barely communicating with anyone. After months of hoping to become pregnant, the disappointment of what was happening crushed me.
I was so weak and ill, visitors were limited. The few allowed in prayed and tried to encourage me. Nevertheless, I lost my peace, and didn’t know how to find it. Of course, my husband Ken tried to be there often, but he was a young pastor with a heavy workload.
One friend connected with me in a profound way. It’s not that everyone else’s visits didn’t matter. They did. I’m positive their prayers and love sustained me, but God chose this friend for a special breakthrough.
Like everyone else, she came and simply sat quietly by my bedside at first. Nurses entered and left to empty my emesis (fancy word for vomit) pan but sometimes several hours passed before one checked on me. The hospital overflowed that winter with critically ill patients. When my precious friend sat down, my pan was full. After a couple minutes, she took the pan gently out of my hands. Carefully she carried it into the bathroom sink and cleaned it out. She was probably grossed out but did it anyway.
After she sat back down, she said, “How about I hold this for ya?” She saw how I struggled to keep it steady. For two hours, she sat uncomfortably bent over my bed, holding that pan, and emptying it. I could hear her whispering prayers and assuring me of God’s love and care, like everyone else, but it was that small, peaceful, practical act with the pan that cut through my shadows.
She quietly entered my place of pain and shared goodness and peace.
We fired our doctor shortly after this and my new one treated nausea with proper meds. All these years later though, I have never forgotten those lonely, sad days and the quiet hours with my friend that began restoring peace to my soul.
In the book of Job, we see a man in deep sorrow who needed someone to share peace with him. Not only did he lose his business, his servants and all his children, he became very ill with some kind of sores that covered his body.
When his friends showed up, at first, they did a great thing. They sat in silence with him for a week. Then, they opened their mouths. Worst comforters ever. These guys never tended his sores or tried to help him in a tangible way.
They surely did not share any peace. Instead, they criticized him and said that his suffering was his own fault because of sin. Fabulous. Even if that was true, it’s not their place to say it.
My friend could have talked to me about switching doctors, or yammered on with other advice, like Job’s friends. But she didn’t. Instead, she shared her peace and confidence in God and his goodness with me. And cleaned my pan.
Be ever so careful with people in places of pain and suffering. Look for quiet, peaceful ways to enter their places of sorrow, confusion, and despair. Infuse the peace from your life into their place of turmoil.
“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” — Saint Francis de Sales