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As I type these words, five years have gone by since our little granddaughter, Mya Grace, went to be with Jesus. Frankly, it was a horrible week: on one Saturday I preached my father's funeral and on the next Saturday I preached Mya's--while in between our youngest son was finishing up drug rehab in Georgia. Dealing with Dad's decline, Mya's diagnosis, and our boy's drug addiction made for a brutal year that ended in a crescendo of pain.

Others around me struggled too--my Mom, my wife, my baby daughter and her husband, all our family and close connections, fellow church members and friends, who deeply cared and fervently prayed. Only the grace of God got us through. It is still the case.

Years ago I heard someone say, "If you preach to hurting people, you will never lack for an audience." I tried to sympathize with the suffering, and theoretically, I could. I believed and preached that God's grace was sufficient. But, when I went through it, it became experiential knowledge--and then I found that His grace was enough.

Here's what I want you as a church leader and a member of the household of God at(insert your local congregational name here)to know: you have folks around you that are in dark places--valleys of despair. They are at their breaking point. They call on God and heaven seems silent. They come to church to find an encouraging word from a friend but they seem to be unseen and unheard. They need hope and yet feel hopeless.

God has called us to help the hurting. We are agents of hope. Let us be conduits through which God's grace flows.

Yours Because He Lives,

Dennis Thurman, Haywood AMS

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