“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”—Jesus
Recently, in several discussions with friends and relatives, I was condsidering again how everyone has something. Each of us—despite appearances to the contrary—is dealing with some hard thing. Whether it’s our own health, finances, relationships, addictions, depression, OR it’s someone close to us who is sick, hurting, dying…
Life is hard. Often really hard.
Kids dying. Marriages being ripped apart (from the inside, even). Poverty, disease, hunger, death. Need I go on? No, but I will. Addictions of all kinds that have an iron grip on their victims, never letting go. Deep sadness, depression, loneliness, suicides. Orphans (by accident, illness, or choice) or even more sad, abortions. Sex trafficking of young children. Forcing other children to learn to hate and kill and destroy whomever they are trained to see as ‘the enemy’.
Steal, kill, and destroy. Sounds like our Enemy. Powers of darkness. Very real.
And it’s not just volitional evil, of course. Accidents of all kinds rip families apart as some are left to grieve those who are gone. Planet earth can become violent in its own right, whipping up storms and earthquakes and fires… death, destruction, disaster everywhere.
Where is the hope? Why are we not all balled up in a corner hoping to quickly wither away, leaving all of this behind?
“But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
We can find happiness, and even the elusive joy1 in the midst of whatever blackness may be touching or completely enveloping us. Jesus also said, just before the words above, “But the time is coming—indeed, it’s here now—when… [I will be] alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.”
I am not alone. The Father is with me.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.
Words that are embedded in my brain from my childhood. Truth that becomes more real as I live this life. Nearly four decades of dealing with much of what life can dish out had not necessarily jaded me, but I do often feel the bruises and scars from all that I’ve come through.
Come through with him.
The thing is, really, everybody has something. We know we’re not alone because Father is with us. Even if all others abandon us. But we also know we are not alone because—I’m convinced—everyone else around me is going through something as hard (for them) as whatever my deepest hurt is. Now, I don’t want to minimize anyone’s own trial. In fact, I think most of us would feel like MY trial is harder, longer, more arduous. That makes sense, because it obviously affects us the most.
But might there be some joy—some relief?—in sharing the burden of another? For a time, walk beside another who is hurting, even if you are still feeling your way through your own dark.
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. —Galatians 6:2
There is joy in empathy and understanding, for the giver and receiver. There is joy in knowing we’re not alone. Jesus knew it, even without his friends. He also invited us to know that peace, in all circumstances.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” —Matthew 11:28
Hope, rest, peace… all come from knowing that Jesus is with us, no matter how bleak. Anchoring our hearts to him, there are moments of joy along the way, despite the circumstances.
And, knowing that we’re not the only one facing something terribly hard, perhaps a connection with a friend or relative to share those burdens will bring joy, too.
We’re all dealing with something. Jesus said we would.
He was right.
And REM agreed. (Couldn’t resist adding this video… enjoy!)
Addendum: The day this post was written, during breakfast prep, it was discovered that our long-lived dwarf hamster, Tucker, had finally expired. Needless to say, this became the ‘trial’ of the day for several Campbell children. More evidence that everyone and every day has something, doesn’t it?
- I read an article recently that presented the idea that we have happiness in tension with the understanding that sadness will follow. Joy is found even in that sadness, or potential sadness. Well-written, and worth the read. ↩