Suffering with Others

Tonight I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful – albeit somewhat disturbing – lecture. The lecturer spoke with great knowledge and sensitivity about those whom she helps. They are individuals who are deeply suffering as a result of various traumas and life experiences. In particular, those who have had their orientation in life shaken to the core due to these traumas.

I couldn’t help but reflect a bit on how right now, just a few weeks from Holy Week, Christians all over the world are pondering again the suffering of Christ.

Scripture speaks of how Christ, the Suffering Servant, took upon himself the deepest of pains, the most horrible abuse and the most intense humiliation, because “God so loved the world….”

It is the most poignant of stories.

Perhaps, as we walk this year’s Lenten journey, we can look again at those around us who may be suffering in ways we can hardly imagine – who have had their own moral injuries that are so deep – they are wounded more than we know.

Perhaps, in the spirit of Christ’s love, we can be sensitive to them – and listen in new ways to their stories.

It will not take away their pain but it may be a small, healing balm that – by God’s grace – may help them along their way.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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