Have you seen a picture like this before? ￼
When a train derails it can be caused by any number of things – broken rails, defective composition, unusual track interaction, improper use of control systems, collision, harsh handling, obstruction, or interference.￼
Due to the momentum of the train, derailment is not often immediate, and the train seldom comes to a sudden stop. There can be pushing of soil as the train is virtually driven into the surface, broken couplings and track, dents, gouges, debris and extensive wreckage can cover a large area.
I find an interesting correlation in a passage of scripture.￼
Galatians 5:7 in the NIV reads, “You ran well. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” The Berean Study Bible says, “who obstructed you from obeying the truth?”￼ The Good News Translation, “Who made you stop obeying the truth? How did he persuade you?￼” God’s Word Translation, “Who stopped you from being influenced by the truth?” And the Weymouth, “Who caused you to swerve from the truth?”
I’ve heard teachers explain that in this gospel letter Paul was referring to a track and field event where the runners of the race, each in their lane, were focused and forward-moving, when one runner cut in on another and forced him off the track. I’ve seen this happen, and it very definitely causes great havoc.￼
As I see it, the idea of derailment says so much more.￼ It’s not just a mere interruption of the race, but a wreckage. It causes complete disruption of operation. ￼It requires remediation, clean up, repair, dealing with aftershock, realignment, re-railing or setting back into place, which can take great time and care depending upon how far the train was from the track at it’s final point of impact. Repair can take an extensive amount of time, resources and effort.￼￼
Once operation is resumed, everything must be handled with great care to ensure solid foundation, strength, and that all alignment has been properly taken care of.￼ Systems are checked and double checked to ensure that no further incident occurs.
So likewise must we proceed with those who have received a spiritual or deep emotional injury. These events can blindside, shock and turn a life upside down. A person can be thrown entirely off course by the actions of someone they loved or trusted. They have been caused to swerve or derail and most often because of the betrayal they begin to question whether they even know what is really truth.
We cannot presume to know how they feel or how they have been affected by the event. It is not a life lesson that can be glossed over, passed off to experience, or casually treated. The healing process can take months or years in some cases, and care must be taken to ensure a thorough and complete healing. And most importantly, reserve judgment. We can never assume to know how they should behave in their circumstance or how they ended up there in the first place. If they have removed themselves from a toxic environment, it’s likely because they knew themselves enough to know they had to. Don’t suppose whether it was the right decision or judge them for making it. Remember, only God knows the heart. Let Him do what He does best. Our part is to love.
Grace, patience, compassion, and sincerity are required. Life isn’t perfect and no one should be expected to behave as if it is. Allowing people to be real and not discounting their trials can help them sort out what they have gone through and what steps they need to take to get back on course. Most often they know themselves well enough to know what they need and it’s not necessary for you to have all the answers. The greatest gift you can provide is a listening ear and a safe place for them to just BE. Build, encourage, pray, love and be the friend that you would love to have in your circle in that situation. Laugh and cry with them, and when they get stuck, provide a gentle nudge to urge them into motion. Help them re-discover trust and truth.