2018-01-30 - Other People's Problems
I had an interesting experience when I was searching the internet for Bible verses related to helping other people with their problems. I expected to find verses about standing by people in their time of need, supporting them, entering into their pain and caring for them. Instead, I kept running into articles about “minding your own business!” Over and over, the authors seemed to assume that if someone were to be interested in another person’s problems, it would be as a busybody or gossip!! I was surprised. But I guess everyone comes at it from their own perspective. I was coming from mine, which is that of a person with a caring heart, Social Work training, Stephen Ministry© training, and who has been in a helping profession as a crime victim advocate.
What brought all this to mind was that I recently recovered from a horrible sinus infection. I never had any idea that “just” a sinus infection could take so much out of a person. I am very rarely sick, and to wipe me out, I thought I was suffering with something like a bronchial infection or even a little walking pneumonia. I was always dismissive of an illness that was “just a sinus infection,’ thinking it was something easily borne, with no fever, nothing serious at all. Little did I know. But once I recovered - after about two months of sickness - I vowed to never again use the word “just” when mentioning someone’s sinus infection. I vowed to show more empathy, and to do more praying for the person.
This all led me to realize that we should never use the word “just” when describing ANY problem of another person. As I shared after Richard's recovery from Guilain-Barre Syndrome, of all the cliches we encountered, our least favorite was "it could be worse." It is not our place to devalue someone's experience or feelings, not our place to judge. We don’t know how much suffering any situation causes for another person. The best thing we can do is allow them to tell us, and to let them know that we will walk with them through it.
As Paul instructed us in Philippians 2:4 (NIV), we should all be “not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.
Of course, like all our other behavior, all this comes under what has become known as the “Golden Rule.” For as Christ taught us in
Matthew 7:12 (NIV): So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
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