We have a powerful example from Jesus in Luke 24.
It’s a quiet morning.
A couple weeks have gone by since a friend passed away from suicide. I sit alone with a cup of coffee. Life has inescapably moved forward. The dust of that crazy moment has somewhat settled.
And that, in and of itself, can create a problem, especially for those who deal with depression or are directly affected by the loss it brings. Just because things externally have subsided doesn’t mean things internally are resolved.
Our church community (Kfirst) supports an organization that is helping the people of the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. It’s called Convoy of Hope. What I love about COH is that they’re not only prepped and ready to respond when a disaster presents itself, but has plans for long-term assistance with putting life back together for the area affected by the tragedy.
Convoy of Hope is there when life hits and still present when the dust settles.
And that my friends is what those of us who deal with inner darkness need most. Yes, we need you when life hits us hard. But we still need you present when the dust settles. That’s the moment when life moves forward and we cannot afford to go back to business as usual. The tragedy must produce change in our praying, thinking, loving and engaging.
Luke 24 is one of those the-dust-has-settled moments. Jerusalem has calmed down a bit since the crucifixion of Jesus. These two men walking to Emmaus have lived through the whirlwind that has been the previous couple days (arrest, trial, death of Jesus). They now depart from the city and, unbeknownst to them, the resurrected Jesus is about to join them on their journey.
“And he (Jesus) said to them, ‘What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?’ And they stood still, looking sad” (v. 17).
The death of their Savior devastated them. And now that the event was over, most likely, they were heading back to their hometowns to resume the life they knew before they met Jesus. Back to business as usual.
They don’t even know it’s Jesus. Their inability to recognize him, I believe, was less about Jesus concealing his identity and more about how our depression and hopelessness works. Mental and emotional darkness tends to manipulate the senses, preventing people from seeing or sensing what seems completely obvious to everyone else.
This is what Jesus stepped into. And he listened to them as they started sharing their hearts with these four words:
“But we had hoped …” (v. 21)
These words were not spoken in ignorance. Luke 24 tells us they knew how Jesus had foretold his resurrection because they recognize it was the “third day” after his death. They’d heard the eyewitness testimony of the ladies who visited the empty tomb and encountered the angel. They had even received word that Peter and John had confirmed the empty tomb.
But we had hoped …
Quite often, we can be quick to respond to a tragic moment, but forget that there’s more to do when things settle. We can get so busy celebrating empty tomb experiences but fail to realize there are those still aching from the wounds of the original event. Just because life moved forward doesn’t mean they have. Just because you see something hopeful doesn’t mean they feel the hope.
The dust of the event may have settled, but what is happening inside of them has not. They are still living in the wake of tragedy.
1. Jesus Stepped Into Their Journey With Them.
If you notice the Scripture, Jesus didn’t stop them from the direction they were walking. He joined them and walked with them. It’s such a simple point that needs to be highlighted. He didn’t stop them to shift them into a direction that made him feel more comfortable. Hey, guys, let’s go back to Jerusalem and talk. Jesus met them on their journey. He chose to walk with them in their hopelessness.
2. Jesus Listened Before He Spoke.
Listening is not waiting for your turn to talk. Listening is being fully present and fully aware of what is being communicated. These two are externally processing their inner turmoil. How do we know Jesus fully listens to them? Because we get every detail of why they feel what they feel. Listening isn’t leverage to tell your story. Listening is the invitation to step into someone else’s story that may or may not include yours.
3. Jesus Didn’t ‘Top’ Their Pain With His Own.
He didn’t tell them, “You think you’re suffering, let me give you a clue to what I dealt with this past week.” You may think you’re “connecting” with their pain or helping draw them out of their personal darkness by showing them that their issues are not as bad as you may see them. But it’s causing more harm than good. “Topping” someone’s pain/story doesn’t connect to them. It only devalues them and labels you as an unsafe listener.
4. Jesus Fed Hope to Their Souls.
Too often, we separate the spiritual from the practical, emotional and/or mental. And when we do that, we shortchange people. John 10:10 is where Jesus talked about coming that we might have life. The Greek word for life is Zoé. That life impacts on all four of those levels (spiritual, physical/practical, emotional, mental). They affect one another to bring complete life/health to us human beings. Look again at Luke 24:
Jesus was fully present with them: emotional health
Jesus listened and dialoged about their mentality: mental health
Jesus ate with them: physical/practical health
Jesus spoke hope to them: spiritual health
The results: These two men who “had hoped” left that place and went back, full of hope, ready to tell others what they had discovered.
Jesus didn’t come to make us “un-sad.” He came to give us life to the nth-degree. And I wonder if we’d see more people “full of hope” if we choose to have that Christ-like (zoé) approach by pouring into people spiritually, practically, emotionally and mentally. Instead of just trying to get people to stop being so down, perhaps zoé can give us a game plan and a pattern to strategically pour life into those who feel lifeless.
This is what I need when I face my inner darkness. This is what I want to be for others.
I want to be there when life hits, and still present when the dust settles. I want to be that physical reminder that Jesus is not just present now, but ready to help navigate life (zoé) with them moving forward.
This is our role as the church. We are a convoy of hope to the sphere of influence in which God has placed us. And since Jesus met us and filled us with hope, we are to go and do likewise.
This article originally appeared on Dave’s blog and is reposted here by permission.