WHAT a Jesus-legacy Jean Vanier has given to the world. Compassion, gentleness and kindness ooze from his lips resplendent a heart ablaze with the love of Christ. This, on loneliness…
“To be lonely is to feel unwanted and unloved, and therefore unloveable. Loneliness is a taste of death. No wonder some people who are desperately lonely lose themselves in mental illness or violence to forget the inner pain.”
― Jean Vanier
Immediately my mind is thrown into the cauldron of a recent shooting disaster, dozens dead, several hundred wounded. I wonder instantly the mental state of the shooter. What on earth is going on in someone who will bring about such destruction? Sure, there will be those who wish to strike down such sentiment. Compassion for a mass-murderer? Easy to say for someone who hasn’t lost one of those precious ones who so innocently died very prematurely! Fair enough. How on earth do we reconcile such loss. We cannot. Not this side of eternity.
Yet, the Father in Jesus forgave even Barabbas. Only the Father knew his story.
Only the Father could judge, and that judgment was compassion, because He understands the entire backstory. There is always a backstory.
And still, I, in my humanness, can barely conceive how God could be compassionate in forgiving such evil. Fortunate for us all that — in Christ — He doesn’t count our sin against us.
Or, what about the elderly lady I encountered in the Nursing Home recently, obviously ailing from a pejorative neurological disease. My nearest proximity was her cue to break down in desperation to leave. I prayed with her, but the loneliness of her being shut in beyond hope in this life is just incomprehensibly sad. And we must leave that as it is. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can acceptance of harsh realities come. Transcendent of our own understanding.
What if we were to sense the loneliness in another individual, and simply attempt to meet them there. To just be there with them. Not try and fix anything. Just listen if they want to speak, and to hold the tensions of the irresolvable kind. To allow them the dignity of non-engagement. The sanctity of silence, which doesn’t seem to us to be much of a ministry. Funny how when we move aside the Holy Spirit often moves in.
The moment a lonely person is met they encounter the Spirit of the living Lord. It’s a dynamic engagement promising nothing but delivering everything words cannot.
The Holy Spirit does all the work of our spiritual ministry. All we need to do is be prepared to be His vessel as He points Himself toward the broken.