The Painful Nothing
One of life’s deepest pains is a lack of connection to others. When you know someone with clinical depression, assume first that it hurts. Depression often feels like disconnection from everything - others, oneself, even God. It hurts, because previously there was a connection, and now it’s mysteriously missing - the odd pain of a vacuum, the pain of nothing, where there should be something.
But you don’t need to have clinical depression to experience this. After our miscarriage (pre-Emily), we found ourselves in a polished worship service with a thousand other people. The music was so happy - ‘we are so happy that God has made us so happy’. And in the middle of that sea of singing, we stood there, spontaneously tearing up. The reason was not our grief itself - it was that, while in such close physical proximity to this thousand other people, we were, in our grief, utterly unknown, alone and disconnected. The cleavage between us and these other people hurt.
How often might a micro-version of this happen in your Community Group (either with you there, or because you were not there)? We sit next to each other for ninety minutes, eating, talking. But how often do we get around to ask the other person that question that would cause connection, the connection of knowing? That question is essentially, “How can I pray for you?” But it comes in a thousand different forms - there are a thousand ways to get at that. But once you know - and they know that you know - and you bring them to the Father - well, now a supernatural connection has occurred, with God at the center.
But when this doesn’t happen, it hurts. It hurts because some connection should be there, because what the Bible says is true - we are one in Christ, with one shared Spirit, one shared Father, one shared Savior, one body of Christ (Eph. 4:4ff). This does not give us license to sit back and expect others to solve all our relational loneliness. Nor does it give us license to be busybodies, voyeuristically peering into others’ business for our own morbid interest. It only means this: we each of us have a responsibility to be aware of the person sitting next to us - not everyone - just the person nearby. And then to follow-up that awareness with love that is curious about the other - how to pray for the other. It’s a fallen world. What we need most is connection - to our grace-giving God.