Scripture says in Proverbs 17:17, “A friend is a friend at all times, and a brother is born for the time of adversity.” I have lived that scripture at times in my life when I needed someone to walk beside me through the storm. Life is unpredictable and there is never an opportune time for a crisis. Just about the time you want to cry out “Stop the world, I want to get off!” God sends someone to accompany you.
When a cross is being carried one gets weary. As you cry out in desperation to your Father in Heaven, He hears your cry. I can almost hear God the Father ask His Son Jesus, “Whom shall I send?” His Son knows the weight of a cross so well, not only the physical pain, but the emotional and spiritual pain as well. Pausing for a moment He replies, “Send a Simon to shoulder the physical weight, one who is strong and knows how to persevere.” No one can carry so much weight alone. The Father remembers His only begotten Son falling three time and how hard it was to watch Him suffer. He agrees to send a Simon.
As tough as physical pain is for the body, tougher yet is the emotional pain for the mind. It is often misunderstood and sometimes unbearable. When one suffers emotionally, many run away from them. They do not know what to do. Many friends deserted Jesus when He needed them most. So, when the Father sees one suffering emotionally His heart of compassion wants to help. I can almost hear Him as He turns to His Son Jesus and asks, “Whom shall I send?” “A Veronica!” is Jesus’ reply. “Send one who can see a tear in the eye as they pass by. Send one who will take the time to wipe, not only the teardrops, but the entire face with tender care. Send a person who can look right in the eye that was spit upon as they carry a cross, and then pour out compassion and love. One who does not count the cost but takes the time to restore another’s dignity. Father send a Veronica to them.”
When Jesus was asked by the Father, “Whom shall I send ? My child is on a cross she needs a mother to carry her to me.” Jesus knew just who. “Send one like my mother who is faithful and true, gentle, and wise, one with a mother’s heart. She stood at my feet and held me in prayer. She was my last glance as I left the earth. Her love helped me to endure the pain and her smile carried me home. Send a Mary.”
At times in my own life when I needed a Simon, God sent a gal named Sue. She was gifted with an “I can do it kind of attitude.” Strong and reliable, Sue was always willing to lend a helping hand. She was the first phone call I made when a crisis knocked on my door. Always quick to respond and never too busy to care.
While recovering from the birth of our fifth child Joshua, Sue offered to do my carpools for me so I would not have to take my December baby out in the cold. It was a kind deed and no small feat. It was a sacrifice of love. She did not have a car so she had to use mine and would walk over to my home in the cold. In her arms she would be carrying a newborn that she was babysitting. I cannot tell you the countless times Sue came running to my side. Sue started out as a friend but became a sister. Who is Sue to you?
There were times in my own life where emotional pain had the best of me. I felt lost and alone. “If you do not come through for me Lord, I will go down in the pit” became my cry. What did my Heavenly Father do? He sent a Veronica who wiped my tears away and restored my dignity. It was a season where not any friend would do. My “Abba” daddy sent another Sue. This gal was the first person I met in Augusta. She was a doctor’s wife and so was I. Our husbands worked together. She was a mother of many and I was too. Our similar lives put us together, but it was God who held us together. We eventually became neighbors, then friends, then sisters. Sue was one of those servants of God who wore Jesus not on her sleeve, but inside her heart. God had bestowed upon Sue a gift of “agape” love. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13) Sue did not just lay down her life for me but also for her husband, her children, her family, her friends and all she met.
When Amanda , my fourth child was born, I was exhausted. I had been pregnant or nursing for eight years straight. I was sleep deprived, not eating right, had colicky babies, and it took a toll on my health. My cup was empty. God sent Sue to fill it. She did everything, literally everything. Sue and I spent many a day just being together. Unless you have been an emotional wreck, you will not understand the way Sue stepped in with shoes of compassion and brought me through the storm. She had the unique ability to take in my life and hers all at one time without a complaint. I will never forget the way she led me back to wholeness through Christ’s love. Who is Sue to you?
Pain is never our friend. Who among us embraces it with open arms? We all know that the Christian walk is never for the faint hearted. When one encounters spiritual pain, God sends those who have walked and talked with Him and know His voice. The dark night of the soul is a time of feeling the absence of God in your life. It feels as if He left you, but you soon realize that He was there all along. In a time of doubt, worry, and confusion, it doesn’t help to receive free advice or quote scripture all day long. No, it is a time to have your spiritual mother carry you. She will do battle for you. She will make a way in the desert and lead you to the promised land. Even though you do not know the way she does, she journeyed it before you and has the blisters to prove it. Along the way she heard God’s voice and surrendered her life to Him.
When my life filled with darkness and I did not know the way. God sent a third Sue. She became my spiritual mother and my forever friend. I will never forget her. Now God holds Sue in the palm of His hand. She was a one-of-a-kind mentor whose every word was deposited into my soul. Like the living bread of the Word of God, Sue’s words were eternal. They still bear fruit in my life. She was the kind of friend that you could take off your shoes with and bare your soul. You could laugh out loud with Sue and cry with real tears and never feel judged. If I had a spiritual question, she was my first call. Sue was to so many, “Jesus with skin on.” And as you may have already guessed Sue was the sister who coined that phrase. Spending time with her whether making an apple pie or chatting in the sunshine you knew God was among us. Without fail as I went home and reflected on something Sue said, I just knew it came from the heart of God.
Sue knew God and God knew Sue. When God needed to send someone to stand at the foot of the cross with someone, He called upon Sue. She always said yes. She never ran away. She waited and prayed like Mary our mother. Who is Sue for you?
As Our Lady told the children at Fatima, “I cannot promise you happiness on this earth but in the next.” Suffering has a way of changing us forever. God does not leave us to suffer alone. Whom shall He send ? He will send a Simon, a Veronica, or a Mary to walk by our side. Sometimes they carry us if we cannot take another step. Jesus knows what it is like to suffer. He too needed a Simon, a Veronica, and a Mary. His Heavenly Father sent them as signs of His love. He will do the same for you.