By Robert Thomas
This week in the Work in Progress series, we talked about hurts, pains, and wounds in our lives. People in our world walk around day after day with mental, physical, and emotional wounds they may not be aware of. Our past experiences haunt many of us, and the effects spill over into our lives, causing us to show symptoms we often cannot explain. We are encouraged to begin the healing process by exposing these past wounds to the light, but it isn’t easy.
As much as we may try to hide it, we often carry around the baggage of our past experiences for years after they’ve happened. Even the strongest, healthiest-looking people in our lives could be carrying weighty issues. Perhaps the guilt and confusion over a lost friendship burdens their minds, or the adjustment to a new chapter in their lives is proving to be much harder than they thought. Do you know anyone going through something like this? Are you carrying around the weight of your past? It’s rare for any person to go through this life without going through these things. Everyone struggles at some point.
What has surprised me the most about this series so far has been the response I’ve seen from the Preteens Ministry. As I stood in front of them Sunday morning teaching this lesson, I was struck to see many of the preteens responding with weary recognition of these wounds. I didn’t have to spend much time explaining the hurts and pains of life, because most of the preteens knew about them firsthand. I thought about the faces looking back at me, and for a moment, I thought about their stories a little bit differently. And I realized that if you look deep down, these hurts, pains, and wounds we all deal with affect the lives of even some of the youngest members of the church.
When I get to know a kid, I’m often surprised to find that inside that little head there’s a person inside, complete with their own thoughts and feelings. I don’t know why it’s so surprising, but it is. In a typical work week, I’ll sometimes see over a hundred different kids. It never ceases to amaze me that each and every one of those kids has an original set of thoughts and feelings. All them are living their own lives, and many of them are going through incredibly difficult situations, often for the very first time. They may not know what to do, or how to move on.
The fact is, young or old, pain affects us all. Kids go through difficult situations just like adults do. Many times a child’s problems are dismissed as “kid’s stuff”, as if it’s no big deal. If I’ve learned anything about dealing with kids, it’s this: to the one going through a tough time, their problems are a very big deal. The effects of those problems, if not dealt with, can be carried with a child as they grow up and become adults. The healing process is every bit as important for a kid as it is for adults.
Let these words inspire you to action this week. People, young and old, are struggling. Did you know there are half a million (and more) people in this city? What do you think is running through their minds right at this moment? Are they happy? Do they feel safe, and loved? Or are they hurting? What kind of very-real problems are they going through today? Do they know how to begin the healing process? Even more important, do they know our God?
One final question: What role could you play in the life of someone who is struggling?