Huddled together on her couch, I sit and weep with her as she recounts the horrifying moments of survival during the nation’s deadliest massacre in modern history.
Christy had gone to Las Vegas with several of her friends to celebrate her birthday at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Shortly after the music started, bullets began to rain from the sky and burst through the crowd, causing sheer panic and chaos. Christy had no idea where the shots were coming from, but she knew she needed to run for her life. She stumbled upon a car which was miraculously unlocked and took shelter inside. She then called her family to say goodbye.
Christy eventually made it home to see her loved ones again, but 58 people never would. Another 500 people will physically wear the reminder of that day forever in their scars, and thousands more will never be the same.
Although I was not in Vegas, I survived a similar tragedy nearly eighteen years ago in the library at Columbine High School. Christy was one of the friends who walked with me on the road to my own healing after that dark day. I have learned many things since then, but one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is the importance of entering into one another’s sufferings, and carrying one another’s burdens.
It is easy to grow weary and feel fatigued by the onslaught of suffering in our world. The news of hurricanes, flooding, war, terrorism, wildfires, genocide, and violence fill our news feeds. It is natural to cry out to God and ask, “Why?” or “Where are You?” But as believers, we know this pain is not His intended design. Therefore we ought to ask, “Lord, what should my response be?”Click To Tweet
Luke 5:17-20 contains a beautiful story about four friends who responded courageously and held out hope to their friend, who may or may not have lost all reason to hope for himself. Paralyzed, suffering, marginalized, the man had no choice but to rely on his friends. Convinced that Jesus alone could heal him, the four men carried their friend on a mat to the Giver of Hope, the only One who could truly heal all of his wounds. The large crowd made it difficult to get to Jesus, so in desperation and faith the men tore a hole in the roof of the house and lowered their friend down to lay him at Jesus’ feet. Amazed at their faith, Jesus healed him.
What if carrying one another’s burdens was not actually a burden at all, but rather one of our greatest privileges? What if bringing our fellow broken, battered, bruised, and afflicted sisters before the very throne of Abba Father was our greatest honor? He alone can scoop them up into His tender, capable, loving arms. He alone can rest them upon His chest to hear His heart beating out the truth… He is love! He is love! He is love! And nothing in all of creation can ever separate them from that love.
We cannot help everyone who is affected by suffering, but we can help one person at a time: neighbor, friend, co-worker, stranger. Maybe it means bringing someone a meal, cleaning a sister’s house, or watching her children. Or perhaps donating your time or your money. Or sitting across from someone and truly listening, crying with them in their pain. It could mean visiting someone who is alone or in the hospital, or simply checking in with a call or text. There are countless ways to practically enter into someone’s suffering.
This does not mean we have the ability to heal them. It just means we are brave enough to dive into their pain and lovingly point them to the One who cannot only ease their current suffering, but redeem it altogether.
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Crystal Woodman Miller lives in Morrison Colorado with her husband Pete and three children Lucca, Malachi and Josephine. She is the author of Marked for Life: Choosing Hope and Discovering Purpose After Earth-Shattering Tragedy (NavPress). She is an international speaker on issues of faith and hope in the midst of suffering. Crystal survived the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, and shares candidly of her own journey of hardship, faith and hope so that it may encourage others in the challenges they face. Crystal also speaks in effort to prevent school violence and to help those who, unfortunately have already been impacted by it. Crystal is most passionate about teaching God’s word and carrying life through the hope of the gospel to a broken world. Find her online at crystalwoodmanmiller.com.