Most likely, the vast majority of people we see at any given time are going through something hard. Some we know about, others we find out later. With still others, we never know the exact cause but see the troubled faces, hear the complaining words (likely aimed at some hapless person who has nothing to do with the actual situation but just happens to be “in the way”) or watch the defeat evident in their body language.
Take last Sunday at church, for example. I passed many who were saddened by the loss of a beautiful young woman who had grown up in the church and was the light of her parents’ eyes. They were feeling deep empathy for those parents and were searching for ways to give comfort. I passed another young lady and her mother who are deeply concerned about their nephew/grandson undergoing treatments for lymphoma in a children’s hospital a few hours away. Yet another man had the dejected face of a father whose daughter’s marriage has crumbled.
In another setting, I rubbed shoulders with someone dealing with chronic, seemingly unremitting pain, another facing surgery, and others facing the long-term effects of a stroke.
When I left my hair salon last Friday, I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in years and asked about her husband. The cancer he thought was conquered 17 years ago has reappeared. She’s troubled about what lies ahead.
In my own family, a dearly beloved 85-year-old uncle had triple bypass surgery 2 weeks ago, appeared to be recovering on schedule, but now has developed sepsis, and the prognosis looks grim. We are all anxiously watching our phones for further updates.
People have stuff on their minds. Hard stuff. Painful stuff. Stuff they wish they could fix but just can’t.
But, in our church family, as in all families, there were also those celebrating joys in their lives. A young couple is expecting their first baby in the spring, and the whole extended family cheered when the gender reveal party turned BLUE. Behind me sat our high school’s football coach who on the previous Friday night became Hartselle High School’s winningest coast EVER. Fun times. Happy times.
All of these cases — the ones I knew about — ignited my thoughts about ways Christian brothers and sisters can respond in the bad times, the good times, and the ones we don’t even know about.
- Follow the biblical instruction in Romans 12:15 — “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
- Show compassion. Colossians 3:12 – “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
- Pray for others. 1 Timothy 2:1 – “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,”
- Be kind. Plain and simple. Whether we know what a person is walking through or not, we can choose to be kind. Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”