It’s kind of crazy how quickly things can change, isn’t it? One moment life is headed one direction, and the next a force strikes our lives, the ripples of which impact us – sometimes for years after the event has taken place.
For me, it was a walk With another person that ended with a knife at my throat. One instant, I was free, and the next, I was trapped. Stunned. Fiercely afraid. Helpless. Then, as quickly as it began, the knife was removed, and I was free again.
Or was I?
Measures were taken to make sure that the threat of danger was removed, and I tried to carry on with life. Working, fulfilling ministry opportunities that came along, and serving others as I could. I thought casting my burden on the Lord meant that I should pray about what happened to me – which I did – and then carry on with life as if what happened to me never occurred.
But, it did happen, and the ripples of that trauma would carry forward in my life for years to come.
I tried to find the rhythm I had, and for a time, I did. But, as the years passed by, I began to experience strangling sensations in my throat – especially if I wore a necklace or had a scarf around my neck. Sometimes, I found myself clawing at them to be removed. If I was in a crowded place, it didn’t take long for fear and tension to fill my soul, for I felt trapped – as if I was unable to get free.
Finally, a good friend gifted with a discerning heart enabled me to work through the trauma. She helped me to understand that even though I was trying to ignore and forget what happened to me, my body hadn’t. It took time, but release and healing came as I acknowledged and faced what happened to me instead of trying to pretend it never had. The verse in 1. Peter 5:7 doesn’t say, “Cast your burden on the Lord, stuff it down, ignore what happened to you, pretend it never happened, and carry on.” Instead, it says, “Cast all your care on the Lord for he cares for you.”
He cares for you. For me. He intends for us to be the object of his tender care. But sometimes, in our effort to be busy for Jesus, we don’t allow ourselves or others to be the recipients of the care that Jesus wants to give us and that we so desperately need. Why is that? Perhaps it because that to be cared for, I have to acknowledge that I have a need, a wound, or a burden for which I require care. Or is it because that care may require stepping back from the work I do, and this may be viewed as laziness by myself or by others.
You know, I think of the horses I have treated over the years – some with massive gashes on their legs. Treatment was daily, care was continuous, and healing didn’t happen overnight. It took months. Yet, in that time, I would never have saddled them up and expected them to carry out a full day’s work. I would never have expected them to act as if their injury had never happened. I never viewed them as lazy nor as having any less value. They were still my horses that now needed to be the recipients of the care that I could give them.
Even Jesus, on the eve of his trial and crucifixion, drew away from the crowds with his disciples. After the Last Supper, they journeyed to the Garden of Gethsemane. In this place, Jesus withdrew further with only three of his close disciples – Peter, James, and John. With them, he acknowledged and shared part of his burden, saying, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He then retreated so that he could pour out the full depths of his sorrow to his Father, saying, “Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet, I want your will to be done, not mine.” It was after his prayer that Luke 22:43 records an angel came from heaven and strengthened him.
In other words, Jesus was the recipient of divine care. Jesus knew the traumatic road before him. He chose to share his burden with those close to him and with his Father in heaven. Perhaps we can follow his example. While we don’t know how the exact details of our day will unfold, there will be times when a traumatic situation lands at our feet, and we will find ourselves living through something that we never expected. Regardless if it lasts for a moment or for the rest of our lives, we can follow in Jesus’ footsteps.
First, like Jesus, we can share our burden with people we trust – whether they are friends or trained professionals. As well, we can be people with whom people can share their struggles. Sharing does not mean that we have to fix their problems. It means that we listen to them, we identify with them, and we care for them. I don’t know how often in my life, I have just needed someone to listen to me. I don’t need a solution. I just need someone to hear. To understand. To care.
Second, as Jesus did, we can go to our Father in heaven and be honest with what we are going through and how we are feeling. He is safe, and he cares. We can go to Jesus. He walked on this earth, so he understands, and he cares. When the pain, trouble, or confusion is too deep to put into words, and we don’t know what to pray for or how to pray, we can be silent before God, knowing that the Holy Spirit is praying for us (Romans 8:26, 27).
Third, as Jesus did, we can be willing to receive the care that he wants to give us. Often, to be the recipient of care means that I need to step away from the mainstream of life and withdraw to a quiet place where God can minister to me. As I am writing this, I am remembering one of the horses I treated many years ago. Her name is Domyno, and as a yearling, she lacerated her back leg. Healing took months, I cared for her and gave her the time she needed to heal. Yet, you know, I am more than reluctant to give myself the same freedom and time to heal. In the past, I have viewed downtime as wasted time or idle time. I think there is even a phrase that says, “Idle hands are the devil’s playground.” While laziness is definitely something the Bible warns against, the time needed to receive care and heal is not lazy time. Nor is it the devil’s playground. Instead, it is time in which we can receive the care God wants to bestow upon us, and we don’t have to feel guilty about it.
It is in our weakness that the sufficiency of God’s grace is experienced, the completeness of God’s strength is known, and we have the opportunity to receive the divine care that he longs to bestow upon us.
In doing so, as Jesus did, we will find that we do not walk alone. We have a tender shepherd who gathers us in his arms, carries us close to his heart, and gently leads us along the path that we tread, all the while providing the care that we need.