By Rhoda Klein Miller
Social isolation and loneliness is a growing concern of this “most liveable” city of Vancouver. Absence of meaningful connections is being linked to both physical and mental health ailments. Promoting independence in Western society has left people to deal with the difficulties of life on their own. Hints that something isn’t well are ignored or avoided because we fear facing uncomfortable situations or feel uncertain about what to say.
For many deep hurts there are no “right” words. What people need most is to know that there are others in their lives who are not afraid to meet them in the shadows. Sometimes the presence of another who cares is the greatest comfort we can provide. Consider your own experience with grief or discouragement. Do you remember the words spoken to you or rather who showed up and what you felt from them? Jesus, on the night ripe with dread of his anticipated arrest and crucifixion went into a garden to pray. He was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mark 14:34). He asked Peter, James, and John to go with him. His one request of them was to stay near. Remarkable, the Lord of Angel Armies needed their presence for strength. Let’s take that as a cue to how we can minister to overwhelmed people. The ministry of presence is a ministry given to all followers of Jesus who echo His tender concern. Members of the Christian community all serve in the priesthood of believers bringing the love of God into the scene, in a listening ear, a comforting touch and prayerful petitions. We worship this God who has gone to extraordinary lengths to make Himself present and available, now He sends us to go and do likewise.
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