Withdrawing from the crowd as Jesus did is especially challenging. As Katey’s care needs increased, we increasingly withdrew from the crowd. Caring is an exhausting task, as is managing an ongoing illness. From our perspective, we saw it more like the crowd withdrawing from us. Visits slowed to a trickle and then stopped.
The prayer team’s initial earnestness ran out of steam and evaporated. We felt abandoned. Yet, hardly surprising, as I for one was not nice to know as I wrestled with my own unremitting pain that found voice through anger and sarcasm.
In retrospect we were being kindly handled by God. For who within the crowd was able to offer more than empathy and companionship? These were important emotional supports we required along the way, and were most often gifted to us by those themselves experiencing or recovering from acute pain of their own. I often see pubs offering opportunities to join their ‘pudding club’. I wonder if churches might do well to establish ‘pain recovery clubs’!
What God eventually was able to communicate above the noise of my own restless anger and reaction was his desire to have time with me entirely alone. If I felt ill-equipped and ill at ease with the space created, he did not. Slowly I had to discover, away from the crowd, distinct from the familiarity of all that I knew and loved, the reality of the presence of God and his deep love for me. I was in a place of desolation, very lonely and solitary in that no one was alongside me in quite the way that I felt within that I needed.
All my understanding of God from teaching and preaching began to slide south, from my head towards my heart. It was a frightening place because I felt intensely the solitary nature and emotional desolation. God was not available at the press of a button or the mouthing of a mantra. I was to withdraw and to wait. In my waiting I needed to discover how to yearn for God rather than criticise his apparent absence.
(Dr Micha Jazz)
With many peaceful blessings