[435 words]

It was toward the end of March in 2006. A tragedy took place in a small west Tennessee town. The news of the tragedy quickly spread through the town, across the state, and then throughout the nation. The various news networks in our nation reported the news of this unreal event near the beginning of their newscasts. Almost immediately talk shows, both on the local and national and levels examined the tragedy and often reached false conclusions which coldly and cruelly indicted the Lord’s church. The small town where it happened was beyond stunned. Relatives and close friends experienced emotions they had probably never felt. Lives were changed in an instant and they would never be completely the same.

A gospel preacher’s son, who himself was a gospel preacher, had been torturously shot by his wife. I cannot begin to imagine the grief of the parents of the young man and also of his three daughters. How could such a tragedy in one’s family ever be processed in the minds of the family members?

Just after nightfall, less than twenty-four hours following the tragedy, a well-known gospel preacher and former university professor came to the home of the grieving family. He had driven approximately two hours. He knocked on the door, and when it was answered, the family member saw he had brought his overnight bag. He had come to spend the night with his dear friend who was tormented with hurt, inward pain, and grief. He came to listen to his friend, who was trying to process what had happened. I am sure that at various intervals through that night they prayed together. The friend had not come to offer any advice. He had simply come to be with his friend.

Think with me about some lessons we can learn from this preacher who came to visit his friend:

Our lives are to be more than about our personal concerns. There are people who are lonely, discouraged, and hurting. While we have a duty to reach out to all people who are suffering, as we have opportunity, there is a special concern we are to have toward our beloved brethren (Galatians 6:9-10).

We need to be watchful for people who may need our assistance. The apostle Paul exhorted, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).

Sometimes our presence with someone who is hurting is the greatest gift we can give. Galatians 6:2 enjoins us, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Bruce Ligon
Bellville church of Christ
Bellville, TX

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