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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Watch for Pain at Times of Joy



We’re apt to look for enjoyment, especially at festive times, but those selfsame festive times exacerbate the ever-present struggles of life. When we look deep into ourselves we cannot ignore this pain; the pain in others’ lives if it doesn’t impinge on us more directly.
With an eye and an ear we do so much of God’s sleuth work, determining the real sources of misery and injustice as they combine to make life difficult.
The Goal of Helping One Person
The desire to help is understandable, but because of all sorts of fear or lack of opportunity to practice what we otherwise think or believe we may not often do it.
But if we know that there is pain always at the point of joy, just as there may be relief in the presence of mourning, and we are looking, we will be positioned when the opportunity comes (and it will come, eventually) and all we need to do is overcome the situational fear to do one bold thing in love.
It might sound corny, but helping one person, even with an innocuous act of listening to their heart cry, helps them in a sublime way and it helps us connect with the heart of God.
God’s heart is always with the poor in spirit, especially at high times.
Personal Benefits
The blessing, felt personally, at the discernment of other people’s problems is we feel principally grateful for the pain we don’t have—the pain we see in them. This gratitude has an outworking in thoughts, at least, of a usable empathy.
We can only ever come close to knowing more about God, in our world, when we place ourselves in positions to serve.
Just as Jesus came not to be served, but to serve—as a model for us to follow—we are blessed by knowledge, the anointing of love, when we give ourselves over as that vessel toward God’s end in another one’s life.
The personal benefit is a spiritual one; the knowledge of God as the Spirit works in the world. These personal benefits take us on our journey toward the prized possession of characterised humility: the knowledge of truth as our lives sit within the context of life and other people’s lives.
There are personal benefits for the person helped, also. We cannot truly know these, if we’re of true help, but we can know in faith that we’re doing a service for God, and that, there, is the privilege of life.
***
How much more beautiful would our world be if, at joyous times, each person in their merriment kept even a portion of their mind free, to look, toward service, for the one in pain?
There will always be opportunities to help those in pain; a pain made no better at joyous times, indeed, it may truly be made worse.
God knows this, also, which is something we often forget: in each person’s joy is the silent echo, a reminder, of their pain; however muffled at that time it may be. Each person may be helped.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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