When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? -Acts 2:1-8, NRSV
Now, erase every word you have ever heard on these verses.
Think of this as a picture. All of us in one place, and the rush of violent wind surrounding us. Between us, above us, around us, tongues that look like dancing fire, searching for their keeper. On each of our shoulders, a new, linguistic identity rests.
We speak these new words. We experience them in our heads, hearts, rolling off of our tongue. These are the words appointed to us. We are given the ability to speak them and share them.
As I sat on the couch one day, this picture came to me so clearly. I had just received a phone call from another friend seeking to console me. My husband and I had, what I will call, a “life event” early this month. I know you also have these life events, too.
My friend did not know what happened to us, but comforted me as I revealed my absence from blogging. As her concern and kind words rolled over me, I heard her say, “I am experiencing a season of suffering, also”. Divine appointment revealed.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. -2 Corinthians 1:3 & 4, NRSV.
As she revealed her story, my heart broke for my old friend. Our situations were completely dissimilar, but I understood the intensity of each word. I understood the language that breaks through condition, preference, lifestyle, and choice.
This month, I have found the common language of suffering that rests on all of us at some point.
We all speak a strain of suffering. We have our own brand, our own dialect, on which we lay claim. The most important thing to remember is that while our experience looks, smells, feels different from our sisters, our suffering and consolation are more similar. They are purposeful, crafted, directional. They begin, rest in, and end with the Father.
We all have the ability to understand this language.
I wish that I could bring all of you who have stood with me into a room and take turns hugging and feeding you. (That is intimacy where I come from.) What a gift that not one of you withheld prayer or words from me. You have taught me and healed me in so many ways.
When suffering is spoken, hearts unfold, reach out, lock each other in a hedge of protection, and forever become the object of mutual consolation. That is my experience.
If you are suffering, or even simply struggling, I encourage you to trust your sisters with that sacred biblical task of caring for you. It is a privilege to walk through trials appointed to us, together. Email me and I will be overjoyed to intercede for you.
If you have come through a time of suffering, reach out to another who needs consolation. Remember those who stood around you in your suffering, and extend that same love to someone else.
I have thanked all of you for this last month, but I will do it again. Thank you for your patience, your words, your prayers, your comments, your love and your hearts. I have rested in each of them.