The Unspoken Language of Trial


So I ran a good 25K race today.  Met all my goals.

I’d love to tell you about all that, but that’s not the point of this blog.

I saw a few of my Rocky Mount running friends there, notably to this blog, Pam Rickard.

We didn’t get to speak before the race.  But there is a short spur on the 5282048-03_-_Salem_Lake_Trailcourse, where we passed each other on the first lap, around 7 miles.

At this point, we were in a groove and feeling cheery and amicable.  I saw her coming, we embraced, exchanged inspiring pleasantries, and headed off in our respective directions.

But when we passed each other on that spur the second time, at 15 or so miles, it was a different story.  I was nearing the finish of my 25K.  She was just approaching halfway of her 50K.  We were both head down, focused, concentrating, working hard.

We merely reached out and gave each other a passing mid-level five, without speaking. But in that wordless gesture, I felt more connected to her than in our previous greeting.

You see, there is something in shared struggle that is beyond words, and says more.  The nature of hardship is that in its camaraderie is such a deep connection of understanding that it is beyond words.

We were just running, and I only mean this as a trivial illustration.

But the truth of which I speak is understood to those who share a common grief, a common loss, a common fear, a common addiction.  There is a language that only they can speak to each other, that only they can hear, and only they can understand.

I have two friends who both lost sons, one many years ago as a small child to cancer, and one more recently as a young man in a sudden accident. As it has been recounted to me by one of the wives, the two couples were in a Sunday School class together and were asked to speak of a fear.  The man who had lost his boy years before recounted his story to the group.  The one who had just lost his son a couple of years before then felt emboldened to speak of his experience, for the very first time outside of his immediate family.

When he was done, the two men shared a knowing glance.

A look of understanding.

A silence that spoke volumes.

I Corinthians 1:3-4:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Why do we suffer?  That’s a series of blog posts in itself.  But how can we redeem our suffering?  By using it as a springboard of compassion and understanding.

To be the feet, hands, heart, and shoulder of Christ.

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