We acknowledge the strength and value of this support system and commit ourselves to sustaining it for the benefit of our members and our families.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
God has always lived in relationship. It is part of who He is (Three in One). And the Father, Son and Holy Spirit work in loving unity. 1 John 4:8 says “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
As a support group, one of the most important roles we serve is to be a companion, to walk in loving unity with each other as God models for us. The gift of our ‘Presence’, often simply listening, can be a powerful gift of support.
Think with me about Job and his friends. They sat patiently in quiet for 7 days and 7 nights. When did their friendship create conflict, create pain for Job? When they talked!
The first friend, Eliphaz, could not resist speaking. Eliphaz states that after telling Job his thoughts on the situation: “we have searched out; it is true. Hear it and know for yourself.” Job 5:27 Eliphaz only knew his o in opinion and wanted to convince Job of the same. However, Job had a better understanding of his situation, even if he did not understand the ‘why’ for the loss of his loved ones.
The second friend, Bildad, questioned Job as to what he had done to cause his troubles. This is just the opposite we know from the reality of the situation. Satan requested to test him due to God’s praise of Job. “Sometimes people do put themselves in the line of suffering. But most of the time suffering is inexplicable.”* Bildad blamed Job for his troubles. I think that often we are tempted to do this to those with mental illnesses as well….if only they had done this, or that, they wouldn’t have such troubles. Instead, Job came to God and Satan’s awareness due to his faithful life, the opposite of Bildad’s accusations.
The third friend, Zophar, continues with his friends’ attempts to explain and fix Job’s problems.
Job responds,”But you forgers of lies, You are worthless physicians. Oh, that you would be silent, And it would be your wisdom! Now hear my reasoning, And heed the pleadings of my lips.” Job 13:4-6
In the end, their tries to comfort only caused more pain for Job, and their relationship was troubled. God later comes to Job’s defense and deals with the friends. How often do we just need a listening ear that is accepting and loving. That is what we as support for one another can provide that others’ may not be able, due to our own life experiences and challenges.
Think with me about Jesus’ most painful moments. After celebrating His last Passover with His apostles, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to spend the night. And when He was there, what did He do?
Matthew 26: 36-40 “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’ And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’ He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ’Oh My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’ Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘What, could you not watch with Me one hour?’
Yes, even Jesus desired companionship in His hour of trial. The quiet, prayerful support of a loved one can bring comfort and strength that often our words cannot provide.
And so I thank you for supporting me along my journey with loving someone with a mental illness. The ‘whys and hows’ are often unanswered, yet I trust that God has given me the gift of your companionship along the way. And that eases the struggle. Your ‘presence’ makes a difference. Your nonjudgmentalism and prayerful support has given me strength. God understands our need to be accepted right where we are. He is willing to do so with love. And helps us together to assist in carrying one another’s burdens. A listening ear and a loving presence is a gift modeled on the loving care of Jesus.