Can We Really Carry One Another’s Burdens Of Pain & Suffering?

Years ago there was a trend floating around Christian circles that said we could pray and ask God to let us carry another person’s burdens.  At the time, it seemed like more New Age ‘stuff’ and was rejected by most.  Yet, some continued the practice and swear that it did, indeed, work.  The way it played out was to ask God, “to let me carry, or at least share, the physical and/or emotional pain of another person”.  Then the willing carrier would pray almost continuously for the hurting person and after a while they would begin to exhibit  the very symptoms of the suffering person.  Sounds pretty psychosomatic to me, how about you?

The only problem with discarding it as psychosomatic and therefore valueless, is that many times the person who was suffering originally, ceased to suffer.  In other words, the practice did seem to work, and a deep lasting bond often formed between the two people involved.

Jesus did say to love one another and what greater love can we show for another person than to be willing to carry their suffering?  So, maybe, the real issue is that whether it works or not, great love is demonstrated by the very willingness to carry another’s burden.  After all, Jesus carried our burden of non-redemption to the cross, thus bearing our pain.

What In The World Were You Thinking, Lord?

Sometimes when the tragedies begin to pile up one after another we are tempted to ask the Lord what He is doing.  “Is all this tragedy redemptive?”  We cry out, “I’m already crushed in spirit, Lord, was this latest tragedy really necessary?”

Ah, here we see the conflict between the finite and the infinite.  What does not make sense to us makes perfect sence to the Almighty who sees far beyond out ability to see.  He is aways balancing the overall good with the specific good and manages not to violate our will in the process.

The fact is that suffering and death are huge topics.  They are so huge that we cannot reason through them.  They are more than we can fathom.  As such, they qualify to be called, mystery.  And, mystery is good for us because it reminds us that we are not God, and He really does not have to answer to us, hence, we find our proper perspective to God.  He is God, and we are not.

Be Grateful For All The People In My Life? Are You Kidding Me?

Someone told me years ago that I should be grateful for all the people in my life.  It sounded like one of those gregarious statements that are made but no one takes seriously.  How can they?  Some of the people in my life try my soul to the max, so why would I be grateful for them?

Well, I go to the gym three days a week to ‘try’ my muscles so that I will become stronger.  Is it just possible that God has so arranged our lives that the ‘trying’ people are part of His plan to strengthen us.  Hmmm, probably.

He even told us in the Book of Matthew, that “what we do to the least of our brothers, we do to Him”.  So, who are the least of our brothers?  The ones who try our souls get my vote for the least of my brothers’ title.  Do you mean that the way I treat those people who try my soul, is equivalent to how I treat God?  Yes (sigh)…

Do I Really Have To Tell The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth?

Oh how we like to spin the story to make us look a little better.  We know we shouldn’t, but still we spin the story.  We want so bad to be better than we really are.  How will others ever love me if they know how weak I really am.  I’ll include all the facts, Lord, all I want is to make me look better than I really am.

“Anxiety is the sign of poverty of spirit denied”, author unknown.  Translation: I want to deny my weaknesses, but doing so brings me anxiety.  The call for us is to admit our weakness, and if others have a problem with that, then let them work it out for themselves.  Some will cover their own weakness and laud our weakness over us as if they were better than we are.  Is our ego so puny that we can’t deal with that.  Can’t we choose to refuse invitations to pit our ego against another’s ego.  If we do, we will enjoy less anxiety in our lives.

Be Careful Of The Sin Of King Asa, It Sneaks Up On Us

In our attempt to be prudent, conscientious, and not whine when something goes wrong, we often go do the worldly accepted, correct thing.  There is safety in numbers and if enough people do a thing then it must be the right thing to do, right?  Such was the description of one of the Kings of Israel, King Asa.  Scripture tells us that King Asa was a good king and was pleasing in God’s eyes.

Scripture also tells us that there was one thing about Asa that did not please God – he never asked God for help.  Instead he always, did the correct worldly thing.  If he was ill he went to a physician, but he never asked God to heal him.  Sound familiar?  We all know that God heals through His physicians and their medications and that He sometimes heals directly Himself.  So, how do we know when to do what?

It would seem that, perhaps, asking God for His help should be at the top of our list, the very first thing we do.  Then after a prudent amount of time if it appears that He is not going to take care of business directly then we go to one of His servants, the physician.  The operative phrase here is “a prudent amount of time”, i.e. long enough to give God our loving father a chance to take action but not so long that we endanger our health.  In either case, we should praise Him and give Him credit no matter which He chooses to use.

And, You Want Me To Do What, Lord?

We all receive gifts and talents from the good Lord.  Some are large and some are small.  Either way, God expects us to use them to the best of our ability.  The tendency is to say, my gifts are small and of no consequence and therefore not needed so why bother.  That decision causes us to effectively bury our talent in the ground like one for the three servants.  In the Bible story the master left his possessions in the hands of three of His servants, one got 5 talents, one got 2 talents, and the third got one talent.

When the master returned from his trip he asked for an accounting.  The first two had doubled their talents while the third had buried his in the ground.  When the first two reported they had doubled his talents the master praised them.  When the third reported he had buried his in the ground, he caught the wrath of the master for not doing anything with his 1 talent.

So, do we really want to bury our talent and do nothing with it?  The point of the story is to encourage us to do something with the talents we have been given.  Why?  Because God want us to be successful and to feel the sense of satisfaction at accomplishing something of value.  He wants to be able to say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Do They Really Need To Know Everything That Goes On in My Life, Lord?

Sometimes life feels like we live in a fishbowl.  No matter how deeply we retreat into the quiet, unseen portion of our lives, there are people who seem determined to ferret out every detail.  Wow, my life is not that exciting, trust me, so why do they want to know every detail about a dull soul like me.

All of that leads to the conclusion that we should live our life as if all can truly see every detail and find God behind everything we do.  That’s a chore but one well worth the effort because it keeps us connected to the Lord and aware of His presence so that we, in fact, do all for His honor and glory.

And, for the times we screw up and slip a little and don’t quite measure up to the glory, so what, He loves us anyway, and it helps to keep us humble and aware of our own base nature.

When The Good Comes, Sometimes It Surprises Us

A good friend had received some devastating news from their doctor about a medical condition that could be fatal.  They prayed and asked others to pray for a seemingly unlikely good result in spite of the news.  The Doctor had not been encouraging and in fact had painted a somewhat hopeless picture.

Praying for a positive result was clearly praying for a miracle of physical healing.  It was asking God to suspend the natural laws and intervene with His almighty power.  The sacrament of healing through anointing with sacred oil was received.  Masses were offered.  Daily prayers appealing to God were sent up.  Hope was in the air…

Then the news came.  “All is well”.  The worst did not happen.  God had decided to intervene and provide His healing.  Wow!  Is this even possible?  Short answer shorter, “With God all things are possible”.  Why this time for this person and not other times for other people?  Did this person deserve it more than others?  Who knows God’s ways – they are a mystery.  For whatever His reasons, this was His most loving response that fit in His plans for all concerned.  A great big awesome humbling, “Thank You, dear Lord”

Do We Really Have To Tell God What We want?

While chatting with a good friend, they said they would tell God to just do His will for them rather than spell out what they really wanted.  Since this is a lovely person of life & death faith anyway, that should well be their approach, and I am truly impressed & even envious of their purity of faith.  So, I agreed, but noted that in my lack of that level of faith I often add, “Of course, you know what I really want, don’t you, Lord?”

Am I showing a lack of faith with that approach?  Maybe, maybe not.  Perhaps, it is the pause that refreshes and lets me actually give some thought to what I do want.  In fact, that may be the whole reason God tells us to pray, so we’ll give some thought to what we want.

It seems to me that once we clearly know what we want, then we can choose to sublimate that to His will.  Without knowing for sure what we want, we have nothing to give up when we choose His will over ours.

In praying about matters of life or death, all bets are off.  It is understood what we want.  We want life and there is no need to spell it out.

Do The Little Things In Life With Dedication To Details

In our society today there is a tendency to seek out the large showie events and shy away from the mundane everyday stuff.  I watched a pro football player, so desparate for a long run, run sideways & backward hoping to break the big one rather than the normal 5 yard gain that stood right in front of him.  We are attracked to the expensive car that is truly beyond our means rather than the nominal car that will last ten years.  The same thing is true about buying more house than we can afford and then ending up with an underwater mortgage.

If we only wait to see God in a few extradinary events of life, we will miss Him in the hundreds or thousands of small things that occur on a daily basis.  Let us look for God in the details of everyday life, and praise Him throughout the day.