In the midst of all these upbeat blog posts, I have to be truthful. I’ve been having a rough few weeks. I suppose that is why I’ve not shared a lot lately. Who wants to hear the bummer thing, stressing about decisions, finances, family, work, grief…

Yeah, you caught that last one. In August Rich was gone for 3 years. At the end of October (just a few days ago), my maid of honor and very dearest friend, Judy, likewise has been gone for 3 years. She died just a little over a month after Rich did. I remember her  telling me that she never thought she would live longer than Rich did. She too was deeply grieved at Rich’s death. When Rich had first heard about Judy from me, when we were corresponding by email, he had programmed his cell phone alarm with the text, “Pray for Judy,” so that he would remember to pray for her fight against cancer every day. And that he did, until his stroke in July of 2007. Then, of course, he didn’t need his alarm.

I miss them both so much.

But it is also struggles with life, and then I realized, if I don’t share these things, how will you know? And how can there be any encouragement in Christ if we are not all in this together?

I have some friends who have been looking for work for too long now. Others are struggling with finances. Yet others are overworked or struggling with terrible health problems and family problems. And for all the prayers that God has answered for me so wonderfully, there a dozen other prayers that I weep over.

All of us have those sore spots in our soul that we never talk about. Like grief, we dance around the hole of our pain. We see in each other’s eyes that the pain is there, but we deny it with vehemence.

“How are you? Your eyes look a bit red, are you OK?” Someone asks me, and I shut her out by answering, “No, I’m fine, just tired.”

How am I supposed to share in a crowded room that I spent the morning weeping over a thousand losses great and small?

How am I supposed to share when there are Job’s comforters out there. The ones who say, “You should never have left Israel to begin with.” The ones who say, “If you were really in God’s will, this never would have happened.” The ones who claim to have an inside ear to God’s seeming silence. The asker isn’t one of them, but one of them might overhear…

But if I don’t share, then how can I be an encouragement to my friends who are also struggling? How can anyone encourage me? How can we encourage one another while it is still day, for the night is coming?

How can I encourage when I have not gotten “there” yet? But the truth is none of us has arrived. We are all on a journey on the straight and narrow road, and Jesus did not promise easy pain-free, or questions free.

He did promise, “I am with you always, even to the end of the earth.”

I am learning that His presence is enough. I don’t need, and probably wouldn’t understand, the answers. But I must have HIM.

Perhaps we are learning, and oh yes, it is hard, but just maybe we are learning to live that old hymn, “You can have all the world—but give me Jesus.”

I pray for myself, and all my friends who are struggling, “Give us Jesus.”