|Old fire truck, Monroe County|
Many years ago I had a friend who was a pastor ("Bill" - not his real name). Linda and I loved him and his wife ("Jane"). How sad and hard it was for us when she developed cancer. She had a long hospitalization and eventually died.
One day when I went to see her I asked where Bill was. She said, "It's difficult for Bill to see me like this. It's hard on him. He comes, but not often."
When I left the hospital that day I drove to Bill's church to see him. He was in his office. We talked. He was suffering. He hated to see Jane like this. And, there was so much church work that needed to be done. I could only imagine what this would be like if I were in his shoes and Linda was dying.
"Bill," I said, "I know this is hard. But Jane needs you. Let go of the church work. Go to the hospital to be with her. Your people will understand."
Bill went to see Jane that day. He spent most of his time with her until she died.
It is hard to be with suffering people. Suffering people need others to be with them. Jesus moved towards the hurting, not away from them.
My recent book is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.