Silent Sufferers

Yesterday we heard a wonderful sermon from our pastor.  He was preaching from Act 3 where it talks about the lame beggar.  In this story, the lame beggar is used to sit at the gate of the temple to beg alms of those who are entering the temple.  His infirmity was very evident to the people who passed him every day.  Peter and John passed him as they entered the temple and he began to beg.  Peter told him he did not possess any silver or gold to give him, but what he did have he would give to him. In the name of Jesus, Peter gave him the ability to walk again.  (Acts 3:1-10)

It sounds like such a simple story, but as we were going through the pastor’s outline, his first point was – They ministered to one who was suffering.  Then a light bulb went off in my head and I immediately wrote it down on my outline.  How many times do we pass by those who we know who are suffering yet we do not take the time to minister to them?  I’m guilty.

As the sermon continued, my thoughts began to race.  How many are suffering that we do not know about.  I’m not saying that we need to jump into everyone’s business.  But I know some who are suffering.  I know people who fall on the alter who are suffering.  I still do at times. I know there are people who walk in our church with smiles on their faces and their lives are falling apart.  Back in my day, we called them two-faced.  Now, I would prefer to call them silent sufferers.

I’ve realized this more in the grieving process and the difference in the way people grieve.  Collin will bounce from one room to the next, yet he is a silent sufferer.  One day, there will be a Peter that will come along and in the name of Jesus will see his need and will be able to heal what he has been suffering from for so long.

Unfortunately, there is a different type of silent sufferers in our church and they are unbelievers.  Oh my, unbelievers in a church?! Yep, they are there.  Where else are they supposed to be?  Some believe they are saved.  Some do not understand salvation.  And I believe some are just afraid of giving up their own pride.  Many, many, are afraid to walk through the doors of the church.  We would be no where without the loving arms of the church.

Yes, the Erwin family is still suffering from our loss.  We will suffer all day, every day.  But it’s OUR loss, not Trey’s loss.  We are just feeling human suffering that takes understanding, love, and compassion as you walk with us each day.  Believe it or not, I have found it is not as abundant as you would think.  But I think it is because people can’t comprehend the suffering of Christ.  There are so many times that a song will bring me to tears.  I’ve said this before.  It’s not over the loss of Trey, but over the suffering that Christ went through so that Trey could be with him.  So the lame beggar could be healed.

But who among us are suffering in silence?  I know a few, quite a few actually.  I don’t accept “That’s just how they deal with it.”  If the Holy Spirit restores, heals, liberates, helps us in our weaknesses, and regenerates, then what makes us think the Holy Spirit cannot minister to the silent sufferers just as much as the public sufferers?

My prayer is that God will put a silent sufferer in your path, (or even a public sufferer!) you will recognize them, and God will lead you how to minister to them.  As Dr. Fowler said, “We must learn to walk with expectation.” Oh, by the way, I love my pastor. :o)  I’m blessed that he is not only my pastor, but my mentor, counselor and my friend. He truly #liveslikejesus Trey was blessed to have such a wonderful teacher for the time he was here, and Trey knew how blessed he was.  He made a choice not to be silent.

Holy Spirit, Breathe on Me

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go by Trey’s grave.  I do that more than I speak about it.  More than my family knows.  I know he’s not there.  But there is just something that is a little consoling in the words – final resting place.  Because of the fierce wind and cold, his purple flowers were bent to the side with ice at the bottom of the flower pot.  I scraped the ice out and shoved the flowers straight down in the flower urn where they looked pretty.  I wiped off a little dirt, stood back, and gazed at the “Healthy in Heaven” that is written at the bottom of his marker.

That thought kept swirling in my mind as I walked a couple of plots over to his grandfather’s and uncle’s resting place.  Collin is named after his Uncle Barry.  Collin Barrett Erwin.  Trey was named after his dad and his grandfather.  Jerry Wayne Erwin, III.  Trey was always teased and people called him Jerry Wayne or Jerry.  He didn’t mind.  But as I looked down at Jerry’s marker it suddenly hit me, the date, February 13, 2008.  I’ll never forget that day.  After Jerry passed, I checked Trey out of school early.  As he walked into the office and we walked to the car, he was very quiet.  When we got into the car, he said, “I know why you checked me out, it’s Papaw, isn’t it.”  I said, “Yes, he passed away this morning and I just didn’t want you coming home on the bus to a house full of people not knowing what was going on.”  Trey was only 12.  I explained to him how Papaw was so peaceful.  Trey remained quiet for the next few days, until we were at the grave. It’s something about the grave. It has a finality to it. Both Collin and Trey openly cried uncontrollably.  I remember men from our Sunday School class kneeling at their feet to talk to Trey and Collin as they were grieving.  It was comforting to see others to tending to our babies.

Fast forward six years.  I can’t believe Jerry has been gone six years.  And we still grieve for him, but there is more laughter and we definitely talk about the funny things Papaw did.  In Sunday School I handed out a flash light, a TV remote, and two iphones.  What they all had in common were no batteries.  Without batteries they cannot operate.  We are the same way.  If we are of Christ, yet do not have the Holy Spirit, we cannot function.  The Holy Spirit revives us, consoles us, and comforts us.  The Holy Spirit knows what the intimate will of God is for our lives and he intercedes and the scriptures say that he GROANS in prayer for the believers.  Much like we groan in grief.  I believe the Holy Spirit grieves with me.  Romans 8:26-28 ~

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

I think a lot of people skip the first part of the verses and go straight to how God causes all things to work together for good who love Him.  We skip the part about the Holy Spirit.  If we do not have the Holy Spirit within us, we are like a remote without batteries, dead in our flesh.  What is our flesh? Sinful.  I am thankful for the Holy Spirit and its prompting.  This week will be a hard week.  I know that my son, my father-in-law, my brother-in-law are NOT in that grave.  They are seated at the feet of Jesus.  Does it make it any easier as my family faces another anniversary and DNOW weekend without Trey? Absolutely not.  But I know that the grave and those markers cannot hold my baby because the Holy Spirit filled him, consoled him, revived him, and comforted him.  But more than that, I’m thankful for Romans 8:18.  For I KNOW that there is MORE on the other side of the grave than what this world can offer.  More than this grief that I carry.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.”

So son, that is not your resting place.  That is just merely the flesh shell of who you were; a men among men.  My only wish is that some people knew you.  I talked to someone this week that is missing you very much.  We don’t move forward, we move along.  Some are struggling.  Some aren’t talking.  Many hide it.  Some don’t care.  But that’s okay because your mom will never hide her love for her boy or the deep groanings of grief that the Holy Spirit consoles. Holy Spirit, Breathe on Me.