This is classically the busiest season of my year; board meetings, budget process, conventions and speaking engagements galore. It’s like I’m trying to get everything signed, sealed and delivered before the holidays kick into high gear.
This year on top of all the scheduled chaos, I have been “interrupted” by dear friends whose lives have been disrupted by tragedy, sickness, failure and accusation. All these situations were “unscheduled” on my already packed calendar, in the midst of trying to celebrate my wife’s 50th birthday, my Mom’s 80th and my own 28th wedding anniversary.
The recent disruptions in my friends’ lives have been so instantaneous, violent and unexpected it’s almost as if they have been struck by lightning.
Lightning strikes with great violence and little warning; it hits the just and the unjust alike. Some might foolishly be playing golf in a storm and bear the brunt of their poor decisions, but others seem to get struck randomly by no fault of their own.
Whatever the case, a lightning strike is painful, disorienting and leaves you wondering if you can survive.
Having weathered some tough life blows myself that have felt like lightning strikes, I’ve experienced the healing power of ministry that comes from genuine relationships. Even during “busy season,” we must help carry each other’s burdens during the painful seasons of life.
I did some research on trees that have been hit by lightning. I discovered that not all strikes are fatal; many trees can heal after a blow. The trees that survive are the ones that have deep roots and hard centers.
The deeper the root system and stronger the core of people’s lives are what determine whether or not they will weather the tough blows. Psalm 1:3 says,
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
And Jeremiah 17:7 affirms,
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.
Even a healthy tree that has suffered a massive blow needs care. For healing to begin, someone must carefully trim away the damaged, loose bark. Painstakingly peeling it back until they reach the area where it is still solidly attached to the tree.
The harder the strike, the more difficult this is to do in larger areas. But trimming the bark—painful as it might be—encourages more rapid healing with minimal wood decay. This exposed part of the tree then needs a protective layer of moisturizing salve to prevent dryness or infection. As long as the root system is intact and the wood core is not penetrated, this tree has a greater chance of not only surviving, but thriving.
What a beautiful metaphor this is for the body of believers. When a brother or sister in Christ is dealt a devastating blow, we are called to come alongside and care. No matter how busy we are, we must administer life-giving treatments and walk with them during the long, sometimes painful healing process.
I’m hurting for my friends, particularly for the ones with shallow roots and soft cores. As I watch the autumn leaves change colors and plants start to “go inside” as they prepare for the impending winter,
I’m keenly aware that my ministry isn’t just about important meetings, budgets and being onstage; it is about caring for friends who have been struck by lightning.
I’ve compiled verses and prayers you can pray over people in your life who have been struck by lightning here: