I am regularly with people when they are in the midst of pain. I’m not sure that I would say that it is a typical part of my normal day, but it is definitely a common part of my week. Most of the time I just bear with it and feel honored that I get to be a part of God bringing comfort to someone who is hurting. I would never say these circumstances are something that I have grown used to, because the pain is always visibly fresh for those going through it and I can feel it with them. Still being with people during their most difficult most is a part of being a minister and it is a role that I am privileged to get to play.
Still I have to say that the most difficult pain for me to be with someone during is the pain of a lost pregnancy. Other circumstances might affect other people more powerfully but there is something about the loss of the baby that you have been hoping for that really gets me. The only time I have ever completely lost it as a minister in the midst of someone’s pain was once with two church members who were going through the delivery of their still born child. I just sat there and sobbed with them.
I feel like fertility issues taint hope and I think that is part of why the pain affects me so strongly. Anything that is able to turn a period of hope into a a period of dred is horrific. I believe that infertility issues do just that. They attempt to destroy the hope that should be involved in the possibility of new life.
I really like some of what Miroslav Volf has written concerning the struggles (including his personal struggle) of infertility. You can read one of his articles here titled “The Gift of Infertility.” He talks about the pain of his familiy’s struggle to have children and how the adoption of his boys didn’t do away with but changed the pain. Without the pain and struggle he wouldn’t have had his boys who he now couldn’t imagine being without. I believe his thought helps to show how God can overcome and transmute the pain of miscarriages & infertility. I love that word transmute because it involves taking something and turning it into something else. It recognizes the real pain but says that God is able to change the nature and substance of that pain into something else. Something good.
Still I would never bring up Volf’s words in the actual moment of the pain because I believe the pain is too raw when you are in the midst of the D & C or the realization of the loss of the baby you had been hoping for. In the moment I am just there to share the pain. No words. Just presence. I think being with them in the midst of their struggle helps but they would have to be the ones who say if it actually does help or not. I believe we can face most things when we know we aren’t alone. Seems like that is a part of the gospel of Christ. Still for some reason sharing the pain of infertility taxes me more than any other pain. If it helps those who are going through the actual loss then whatever it taxes me is worth it. Their struggle is what really matters.
It was a long day today but an ever so much longer day for those whose pain I shared.