This last week we have been walking through some incredibly difficult things with some friends—a situation of deep, deep brokenness, yet a brokenness so very different from our own. But as I woke up this morning with them on my mind, praying that they be held and kept today, I was intensely aware of the reality that much of my ability to love and care for them right now stems directly from my journey with Judson. In effect, I strangely and even achingly recognize that Judson’s suffering and death was necessary to equip me for this moment in time, for the ability to understand and engage their suffering in a manner that would have likely eluded me before; losing my boy has markedly expanded my space and capacity to embrace the wounds of another.
It brings to mind Tim Timmons, a singer and songwriter, who is battling an incurable cancer with recently austere news of additional tumors. Though never having met before, we were both aware of each other’s stories when we ran into one another at the post office a couple weeks ago; there was instant solidarity through our trials. In a blog post entitled “Pain: The Kindling that Fuels Empathy,” Tim wrote about our interaction describing how “pain understands pain. Sorrow understands sorrow. The more pain and sorrow that we endure, adds to the degree to which we can relate, empathize, and speak truth and encouragement into each other with an increased credibility. PAIN is the kindling that fuels and refines the truest empathy.”
As much as everyone knows this is a journey I would never, ever choose, part of the hope through my suffering is that God is providing the grace to love others in a manner that was previously unavailable to me. And as I think of my friends and their heartache right now, I am especially grateful for the empathy God has been developing in my soul these last five years.