Being There

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with an old friend of mine who is a pastor in the Philadelphia suburbs.  He told me his congregation has been besieged with a lot of personal tragedy lately, and it was challenging but rewarding for him to be there for his congregants during these dark moments. 

"Being there."  This is, I suppose, part of what it means to be a pastor (or any kind of religious leader), is being there for people when they are mourning.  This is not something I am naturally good at, but I am learning.  As someone who tends to approach everything in problem-solving mode, I need to remember that there are no easy solutions in calamities, and in fact usually those who are mourning aren't looking for solutions of any kind as much as they are looking for someone to "be there."

I am reminded of an NPR article that came out a while back but that I just recently read, as shared by a Facebook friend of mine: "Always Go To The Funeral."  Meaning, it's important to be there for people in their time of grief, vastly more important than anything else you could've done that day. 

My pastor friend desires to help people, when they are hurting, to see God's presence and hand at work in the midst.  By "being there" with people in their most difficult times, he is a very real and very meaningful part of that, for eventually when the sting of their pain has subsided a bit, they will remember his assuring presence and his willingness to be present.  Would that we all make sure we make time to "be there," realizing nothing more is needed and nothing else is more important.

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