Choose Joy, Lupus and Chronic Illness, Personal

Weep With Those Who Weep

“I, even I, am He who comforts you.” ~ Isaiah 51:12

I was nearly as low as I had ever been. This was yet another morning (and there had been many recently) in which I had needed help opening the milk jug. Every joint in my fingers was so stiff and swollen that even lifting the nearly full gallon-jug, never mind twisting the cap off, was beyond me. The frustration and despair were even worse than the physical pain – frustration at my inability to perform even the simplest of tasks and despair of ever again being a functioning, able-bodied adult. Lupus had mounted a determined siege against my entire body, a relentless attack that had been going on for months on end with no relief in sight. And both my body and my spirit were losing. Lord, where is the comfort You promised? I need it right now. So badly.

“What’s wrong, Dob?” my nine-year-old brother asked, using the nickname he had bestowed upon me way back when we still forced twice-daily naps and flavorless baby oatmeal upon him. “What’s the matter? I wish you would tell me.”

I nearly broke down at the look of concern in his blue, tear-filled eyes. I always tried so hard to hide the pain from him, to smile and laugh and brighten his day as much as he always brightened mine. But today I was failing to hide the pain. He knew something was very wrong and he was scared. Lord, he needs me. Please give me the comfort You have promised, so I can pass it along to him. I don’t have anything left to give right now, but I don’t want him to worry.

I explained very simply that I wasn’t feeling my best, that I was just a little tired and just a little sore, but that it was all going to be okay and he didn’t need to worry about me. Something like that. Probably. I don’t recall exactly what I said. But this child was far more perceptive than I gave him credit for. He read the truth behind my feeble attempt to put on a brave face and replied quietly with “I’m so sorry, Dob.” He looked at me steadily for a few moments, the tears continuing to build in his sweet eyes. I didn’t know exactly what was going on behind those eyes, but he was clearly doing some thinking. Deep thinking. No, this is more than thinking. He is feeling . . . pain. He was allowing himself to share my pain and feel some measure of it himself.

He slid along the couch towards me, tucked his small, wiggly body as close to mine as he possibly could, and laid his head gently on my chest. I wrapped my arms around him, and there we sat. How long? I have no idea. Long enough for me to wonder if he had fallen asleep. Long enough for the heartache to intensify until I thought it would overwhelm me. Long enough for the ache to slowly sharpen into something else – something strangely like joy. Long enough for me to forget, just for a moment, the pain coursing through my weary body. Long enough for me to be comforted.

In that moment, though I’m certain he didn’t realize it, my little brother was being Christ to me. He looked on me in my suffering and willingly entered into it with me. He could have done something silly to try to make me laugh (which he is particularly gifted at doing). He could have muttered something vaguely sympathetic and then hurried off to play with his toys like the busy little nine-year-old boy that he was. Instead, he chose to join me in my sorrow. He allowed himself to feel something of what I was feeling, opened himself up to the pain, and shared my load. He sat quietly with me for as long as I needed, bearing as much of my burden as his slight shoulders could hold, and simply mourned with me. Wept with me. Loved me.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” ~ Romans 12:15

I felt warm tears soaking through my shirt and realized that he had been quietly weeping on my chest. I noticed that I had dampened his thick blonde hair with tears of my own. His hair used to be so red, I thought. And now there’s no trace of red left . . . Wait, why are you thinking about that right now? Pay attention! We’re having a “moment.” And then the moment ended. He sat up, gave me an impish grin, and said, “Since you’re not feeling too well, I think I should take the morning off from school and watch a movie with you instead.” I laughed. It was my First Laugh of the day, and the sound surprised me. Nothing had changed. My entire body still hurt. I was still too exhausted to even consider leaving the house. Chances were very good that I wouldn’t even make it out of my sweatpants and into the shower that day. But I felt lighter. I felt loved. In his child-like way, uninhibited by shame or an awkward, self-conscious need to fill the silence with the “right words,” my little brother had simply wept with me. And miraculously, God had used this small act of kindness to lessen my own grief.

I had been comforted.

~ Cassandra Marie

Image by KatinkavomWolfenmond from Pixabay

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