Abby Shields
Dear Friend,
A the end of this month I will be traveling out to California to speak at a women’s retreat hosted by Cornerstone Community Church in Auburn. The theme for the retreat is “Encouraging One Another in Love”. I find it to be no coincidence how a lot of the work God has put in front of me in our counseling ministry has prepared me to speak to the women on this retreat.

Currently, I am counseling SIX couples who have recently lost a child. As you can only imagine, at times their grief and despair is inconsolable. Even as a trained counselor I sometimes struggle to find the words to say, because I can’t answer the longing, unknowable question of “why” buried deep in their hearts. At these moments I look for guidance in scripture and one that comes to mind is Romans 12:15, which says, “Weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn.” So many times that is what we do. We cry together. I give them space to grieve, and metaphorically hold their hand and encourage them not to lose hope and to cling tightly to God’s promise that He will enter into their pain and sustain them. For healing is not found in a program or technique but truly in the person of Jesus Christ.

In the toughest of times, when nothing makes sense and hope is lost, I believe we are called to follow Jesus’ example and offer our presence and encouragement. One of Jesus’ many names is Emmanuel, “God with us.” Here we see a loving God who didn’t leave us in our pain and brokenness to figure things out on our own, rather he came near and entered into our suffering, even to the point of death so that we could be redeemed. He didn’t change our circumstances, but he came near and offered his presence in those circumstances.

Even more, when hard times come, Jesus offers this encouragement. In John 16:33b, Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We live in a broken world. Hard times will come and it is easy to get discouraged and lose hope. Yet the encouragement in this verse is that even though we have suffering that we don’t understand, Jesus overcame it all and will redeem all things.

The heart of No Heart Left Behind is to meet families and individuals in their trials and their grief and offer presence and encouragement. We want them to know that God meets them in their suffering and WILL sustain them with His presence and redeem their pain. May I encourage you to be an encouragement to those who you encounter in your lives and offer your love and your presence. Thank you for your support. Because of people like you we can serve and encourage people with the Word of God and the love of Christ throughout our community and beyond.

In His Grip,

Abby Shields