“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” is a series of church worker wellness devotions. Visit lcms.org/wellness for more resources.

Ed Arle, D. Min., retired pastor and pastoral counselor

Walk beside me; be my friend

A chaplain serving in a state hospital in Kansas shared this story of a remarkable young woman:

One very special girl was hydrocephalic.

The water on her brain had caused her head to swell to the size of a basketball, making it impossible for her to hold her head up without the aid of special cables attached to her wheelchair.

In spite of her medical condition, whenever it came time for morning chapel, this girl was there.

And when the request for a favorite song was made, her request was always the same: “Everything is Beautiful in Its Own Way.”

Ray Stevens wrote that song and may have been thinking God’s thoughts after Him. That girl was beautiful in the eyes of God, as are we all. He even calls us His beloved children and the cross of Jesus is there to prove it.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Eccl. 3:11a).

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV).

Bethesda Lutheran Home in Appleton, Wis., has a motto for the work they do with special needs children and adults.

“Don’t walk before me, I cannot follow; don’t walk behind me, I cannot lead; walk beside me and be my friend.”

When I first heard those words years ago, they reminded me of these words from a well-known hymn by Joseph Scriven titled “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!
(public domain)

There are times in the lives of all of us when the heart buckles, along with the knees, under the burdens we carry.

It matters not how successful, how intelligent, how gifted a person may be, the heaviness of living can weigh anyone down.

Jesus is a friend who offers these words of promise and hope:

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29).

Dear Lord Jesus, You have called me “friend.” I cherish that word, especially in those times when I feel so alone I wonder if anyone cares. Help me in those times to cling to the Cross and give me the strength to lift it high so others can see it. In Your name I pray. Amen.

Rest for our souls … what a friend we have in Jesus.

“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” devotions and prayers will be released Monday mornings on the LCMS Facebook and Twitter pages. Church Worker Wellness devotions will also be archived online.

LCMS church workers and their families are invited to offer encouragement to other workers and families by submitting a 500-word devotion for the Synod’s worker-to-worker wellness devotion series. Email questions and submissions to workerwellness@lcms.org.