This morning was chaotic. We were late for church, and I was trying to get my daughter’s messy hair into a quick braid. As I combed through one of her tangles, she tensed up and yelled, “Ow, ow, ow!” I quickly kissed her head and said, “You’re fine,” as I rushed out the door to finish getting ready. She followed me out and tugged on my dress. As I turned around, my 3-year-old looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “No, I’m not fine. It hurts.”
Her words stuck with me through the church service. In my effort to keep things running smoothly, I had dismissed her feelings without even realizing it.
How many times have I done that to other people in my life? How many times have I thrown a scripture verse at someone like a bandaid and then rushed off to finish my daily tasks without ever following up to make sure they were okay?
Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” And that rings true in ministry. We can’t minimize someone’s pain and then attempt to minister to them. Even Jesus addressed people’s physical needs before approaching the spiritual ones.
Looking at today’s world, it is clear that a lot of people are in pain. For the past few weeks, Jeremiah 6:14 has been heavy on my heart:
“They act as if my people’s wounds were only scratches. ‘All is well,’ they say, when all is not well.”
So, for anyone who is hurting: I’m sorry if you have been told, “You’re fine,” or, “All is well,” while someone tried to placate you with a scriptural bandaid. I’m sorry if you’ve ever wanted to look someone in the eye and tell them, “No, I’m not fine. It hurts.”
Because it’s okay to not be fine.
Jesus is not afraid of your pain, and He is not threatened by your anger. He is not inconvenienced by your suffering, and He does not tell you to keep your struggles to yourself.
He is not frustrated when you need more time before you can heal, and He does not condemn you when you scream, and cry, and slam your fists into the steering wheel because it’s so darn hard to live in a broken world.
Jesus does not run from your pain.
Instead, He promises to walk beside you and help you carry it.