A friend, whom I’ll call Ryan, didn’t try to cover his bitterness and deep discouragement over the phone. Defeated. Angry at the unfairness of it all. I asked; he told me.
It had not been a good day: the boss had just pulled the plug on Ryan’s job. No details, but they were unnecessary, anyway. He continued, “We scraped the money together today for our house payment, but now I don’t have a job, and Wells Fargo will take our house if we don’t make the next one—the first of October. Two months behind on our car payment … gas and electricity will be shut off in five days—the tenth—if we don’t bring it current …”
Ryan wasn’t telling me all this because he expected answers. He and Doris had been struggling too long, to expect things would change. I could fling all the platitudes at him about having faith. He said he knew what Hebrews 11 said: (The Message puts it this way: The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.)
The deeper we grow in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the poorer we become … in the things of the world. The Christian must believe that everything in life is a gift from God. I haven’t felt that way these past few days out of surgery. I simply wanted to be done with the nausea, the hellish pain, the inability to sleep.
Yet as I’m able to step away from my physical pain and look at Ryan’s emotional pain, I can accept these truths. If we succumb to the temptation to believe that we’d be better off without God, then we have nothing. Even with a fine house and car, bills all paid; without the Lord, we have nothing and we are nothing.
This is not something I should tell them now. They are suffering the possible loss of all that they’ve worked for. The possibility of homelessness. It is no time for Joe Christian to proclaim self-righteous judgments. We are rather to help them bear their burdens. Because we know “the fundamental fact of existence.”
I’ve been where Ryan is: out of work for months on end, no unemployment benefits, the feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness that accompany a working man without a job. God delivered for me and my family. Not all at once. But enough.
For me and my wife to Ryan and Doris … we give them what we can give them: the encouragement to trust God and his word, to pray with and for them. To encourage, build up, and listen. To be there for them. It may cost time and be inconvenient. Too often, I want to flee those in need.
Such a small sacrifice on my part. My selfish nature doesn’t want to get involved. Don’t make me part of their solution. I’m embarrassed to have those thoughts. Then I recall that Christ gave his all for me.
Forgive me, Lord, for my sinful ways, my selfish thoughts. For wishing Ryan and Doris to be someone else’s problem. Let their eyes be opened to see Jesus–so you can provide for them. In your way.
How are other people’s problems affecting you?