I Couldn’t Let You Go Through This Alone

That may just be the essence of community: I couldn’t let you go through this alone. The first time I heard those words it was a good friend who walked beside me through the most painful experience of my life. We had share some wonderful times together, but then he withdrew for a season from our relationship. I was so blessed we reconnected in the midst of my trial.

One day I asked him why he had withdrawn for a time. His answer? “I could see you were going to get hurt badly and I just couldn’t bear to watch it.”

I understood his comment. He had been through something similar and I knew how painful it was for him to walk with me through mine. I laughed, “But you’re hear now at the worst of it.”

“I know,” he smiled. “I couldn’t let you go through this alone.”

I don’t know a better definition for community. It isn’t always fun and games, but love will not let people go through their darkest days alone. As hard as it may be for us to be alongside, our passion for the person won’t let us be anywhere else.

I was reminded of that recently as I read Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. It’s an old book I’ve wanted to read for a long time. It’s about a professor dying of ALS, and a former student who comes for the last chapter of his life. It’s lessons from the brink of death and many of them are breathtaking. Even though this man was not a passionate believer, he’d come to believe some things that are pretty consistent with the life of Jesus:

So many people walk around with meaningless life, they seem half a sleep, even when they are busy doing things, they think they are important, this is because they are chasing the wrong things, the way you get meaning in your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you and devote yourself to something that gives you purpose and meaning.

And this:

Love wins, love always wins.

I loved the book, enjoyed the lessons, but was most touched by this former student who would come and spend every Tuesday with his former professor in the last stages of his disease. He learned a lot, but also gave a lot—friendship on the brink of death.

At my brother’s funeral a number of years ago one of his best friends stood up at his funeral and said that he couldn’t bear to visit my brother as he suffered the final stages of multiple sclerosis. He wanted to remember him as he was, not in his weakened condition. When he was needed the most he couldn’t bear to go. How sad!

The meaning of compassion is right in the word itself. It means to “come to passion” and passion in the old English meant suffering. It means to run to suffering. To be there at the worst because someone we love needs us there. I love that. A good picture of that are the 9/11 rescue workers who were running into the World Trade Center when everyone else was trying to run out. Compassion means being there when it’s incredibly difficult because we just can’t imagine letting someone we love go through it by themselves.

No one enjoys walking people through dark valleys or through painful reactions, but love says, I’ll be there for you. I may not know what to do or what to say. But I just can’t let you go through this alone!

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14 Comments
  1. todd February 15, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Wayne,

    Thanks for sharing the excerpts……both from your own life and the those of the book……

    peace and good,

    Todd

  2. todd February 15, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Wayne,

    Thanks for sharing the excerpts……both from your own life and the those of the book……

    peace and good,

    Todd

  3. larry February 18, 2008 at 3:14 am

    Hey Wayne,
    I recently finished the same book, and there are several lessons there. The book really touched me, but I think my take away truth was the value of relationships. It is just like the apostle Paul who described himself like a mother to the Thesselonian beleivers. A closeness that trancends material satisfaction. Stuff has a decreasing importance and the value of close friendship proves to be of more value than a vault of gold.
    Thanks for your blog, I have enjoyed it.
    P.S. In the past several weeks, we have enjoyed a few families at our home for fellowship/dinner/study sunday nights, while our daughters 15 -16 year olds, attend youth group at our church out here in oregon. We are not at a point of departure from the community church here, there is a lot of good coming out of it, but we realize the limitations, it is what it is, constrained to the traditions, some good, some bad. One month of sunday night fellowship not sponsored by the church produced more interaction than a year of lectures.
    Thanks for the truth!
    Larry
    Bandon, Oregon….yes its going to rain again this week.

  4. larry February 18, 2008 at 6:14 am

    Hey Wayne,
    I recently finished the same book, and there are several lessons there. The book really touched me, but I think my take away truth was the value of relationships. It is just like the apostle Paul who described himself like a mother to the Thesselonian beleivers. A closeness that trancends material satisfaction. Stuff has a decreasing importance and the value of close friendship proves to be of more value than a vault of gold.
    Thanks for your blog, I have enjoyed it.
    P.S. In the past several weeks, we have enjoyed a few families at our home for fellowship/dinner/study sunday nights, while our daughters 15 -16 year olds, attend youth group at our church out here in oregon. We are not at a point of departure from the community church here, there is a lot of good coming out of it, but we realize the limitations, it is what it is, constrained to the traditions, some good, some bad. One month of sunday night fellowship not sponsored by the church produced more interaction than a year of lectures.
    Thanks for the truth!
    Larry
    Bandon, Oregon….yes its going to rain again this week.

  5. Mike H February 18, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Good word! Once in study, I discovered that one of the characteristics of true elders is that they are called to care for God’s sheep, just as they would care for their own household (1 Tim 3). The term “care for” is the same one found in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. This Good Samaritan cared for the beaten and forgotten man because of a compassion he felt for him.

    How sad that in many church circles we have “elders” who use and abuse God’s sheep through ungodly demands and expectations. True elders are not concerned with titles or positions of authority, but have genuine compassion for the care of God’s children.

  6. Hanan Merrill February 18, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    I read the book a couple of years ago and I was struck with how it seemed to model so well what Biblical eldership might look like-at least that’s the thought that came to my mind.

    I blogged about this book here.
    http://hanansreadingjournal.blogspot.com/2007/12/i-wonder-it-this-is-what-biblical-elder.html

  7. Mike H February 18, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Good word! Once in study, I discovered that one of the characteristics of true elders is that they are called to care for God’s sheep, just as they would care for their own household (1 Tim 3). The term “care for” is the same one found in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. This Good Samaritan cared for the beaten and forgotten man because of a compassion he felt for him.

    How sad that in many church circles we have “elders” who use and abuse God’s sheep through ungodly demands and expectations. True elders are not concerned with titles or positions of authority, but have genuine compassion for the care of God’s children.

  8. Hanan Merrill February 18, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    I read the book a couple of years ago and I was struck with how it seemed to model so well what Biblical eldership might look like-at least that’s the thought that came to my mind.

    I blogged about this book here.
    http://hanansreadingjournal.blogspot.com/2007/12/i-wonder-it-this-is-what-biblical-elder.html

  9. HESED February 21, 2008 at 10:46 am

    I resonate with the passion of this blog. I have had friends who have fought against death and cancer and have regretted not loving them the way I would like to be loved. At the time I was so self-consumed and battling a bad marriage that finally ended in divorce. The shame that is heaped on divorce is almost unbearable. That was over 8 years ago and seems like another person.

    The last three years or so have begun a healing of my heart and soul and awakened an understanding of the love of the Father that when I think of it makes me what to break into worship through song and dance!!!

    I have been part of a small group for about the last 10-12 years. It has become very hard over the last few months and especially the last few weeks have been extremely hard as I have been set free from the legalism I have lived under for the past 30 years of my Christian life. I am so undone by the complete acceptance and love of my Daddy. When I talk in the group I feel like I am a fish out of water or I am speaking another language.

    I find myself longing for the community you talk about in many of your blogs and praying for direction. I’m really feeling rather desperate … at the end of my rope (as it says in The Message…. I guess that is a good place to be!!! Thanks for a place to say some of these things….. It makes me not feel so CRAZY!!!

  10. HESED February 21, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    I resonate with the passion of this blog. I have had friends who have fought against death and cancer and have regretted not loving them the way I would like to be loved. At the time I was so self-consumed and battling a bad marriage that finally ended in divorce. The shame that is heaped on divorce is almost unbearable. That was over 8 years ago and seems like another person.

    The last three years or so have begun a healing of my heart and soul and awakened an understanding of the love of the Father that when I think of it makes me what to break into worship through song and dance!!!

    I have been part of a small group for about the last 10-12 years. It has become very hard over the last few months and especially the last few weeks have been extremely hard as I have been set free from the legalism I have lived under for the past 30 years of my Christian life. I am so undone by the complete acceptance and love of my Daddy. When I talk in the group I feel like I am a fish out of water or I am speaking another language.

    I find myself longing for the community you talk about in many of your blogs and praying for direction. I’m really feeling rather desperate … at the end of my rope (as it says in The Message…. I guess that is a good place to be!!! Thanks for a place to say some of these things….. It makes me not feel so CRAZY!!!

  11. Terri Widergren February 21, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    I’m not sure how this works, having never done this before…but I’m hoping this message goes to HESED in response to your blog response this morning (2/21).

    I can totally relate to what you are saying about longing for the community Wayne talks about. A good friend (actually the very person God used to bring me to Himself 15 years ago…) shared the Transitions CD with me last summer and I was blown away by how He used that to confirm what He had begun revealing to my heart the last 4 years. I had been feeling so alone and suddenly I can believe it’s been Father whooing me. I thought perhaps I was becoming blasphemous! 🙂

    Anyway, I wrote to encourage you to hang in there as you wait for God to bring others into your life that are beginning to awaken and understand how Father loves us. It’s so exciting! In the meantime, this is s great way to share with others on this journey, isn’t it? This is the first day I’ve taken the time to look at Wayne’s blogs…I’m out of time now, but look foward to reading more in the future!

    Blessings to you!

  12. Terri Widergren February 21, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    I’m not sure how this works, having never done this before…but I’m hoping this message goes to HESED in response to your blog response this morning (2/21).

    I can totally relate to what you are saying about longing for the community Wayne talks about. A good friend (actually the very person God used to bring me to Himself 15 years ago…) shared the Transitions CD with me last summer and I was blown away by how He used that to confirm what He had begun revealing to my heart the last 4 years. I had been feeling so alone and suddenly I can believe it’s been Father whooing me. I thought perhaps I was becoming blasphemous! 🙂

    Anyway, I wrote to encourage you to hang in there as you wait for God to bring others into your life that are beginning to awaken and understand how Father loves us. It’s so exciting! In the meantime, this is s great way to share with others on this journey, isn’t it? This is the first day I’ve taken the time to look at Wayne’s blogs…I’m out of time now, but look foward to reading more in the future!

    Blessings to you!

  13. Ray Hinson February 24, 2008 at 6:15 am

    Just returned home after spending many days in Ft. Worth with my 84 year old aunt, Jackie, who had cracked her pelvis in a fall followed by serious related complications. She lives alone(with two beloved cats) and two wonderful neighbors who take care of her household needs. With no family near, my wife Anna and I drove from BR Louisiana to help. We began to see the guiding hand of Father as we tried to drive around FW. I spent a lot of time trying to make hasty decisions on my on to find that in spite of my efforts Father guided us to do what was best.

    In a Hospital waiting room and talking to a lady about all the difficulties in keeping things together in our efforts to do what was needed I realized that a person’s wealth increases in realtion to how much time and effort you spend helping someone else who is in need. Seeing the joy and relief on Jackie’s response to Anna and my love and attention warmed our hearts and gave us much joy.

    She has a long road to recovery and we look forward to being able to continuing to help her.

    Please pray for her.

    Ray

  14. Ray Hinson February 24, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Just returned home after spending many days in Ft. Worth with my 84 year old aunt, Jackie, who had cracked her pelvis in a fall followed by serious related complications. She lives alone(with two beloved cats) and two wonderful neighbors who take care of her household needs. With no family near, my wife Anna and I drove from BR Louisiana to help. We began to see the guiding hand of Father as we tried to drive around FW. I spent a lot of time trying to make hasty decisions on my on to find that in spite of my efforts Father guided us to do what was best.

    In a Hospital waiting room and talking to a lady about all the difficulties in keeping things together in our efforts to do what was needed I realized that a person’s wealth increases in realtion to how much time and effort you spend helping someone else who is in need. Seeing the joy and relief on Jackie’s response to Anna and my love and attention warmed our hearts and gave us much joy.

    She has a long road to recovery and we look forward to being able to continuing to help her.

    Please pray for her.

    Ray

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