Since I’ve started being more vocal about my health journey, I find that I talk with more people about their difficulties and have more empathy with those who have obvious issues such as a cane, a cast or a limp. However, I know there are many people who have other things in their life that weigh them down and many of these are not noticeable.
As I was talking to someone at my church recently about health issues, they said, “Well, everybody’s got something.” Two days later someone else repeated that same thought, “Everyone has something going on.” It is so true, and most often that ‘something’ is not visible, but just as difficult for them as an outward physical disability might be for someone else. Many times we don’t see it because they look well, laugh and say they are ‘fine’. Meanwhile they have heartache from the loss of a loved one, financial concerns from the loss of a job, worries about the health of a family member, and the list goes on.
I deal with chronic sleep disturbances, fatigue, joint and muscle pain that often isn’t noticeable, so when someone says, “You look good!” I feel like a fraud, or wonder how well their eyesight is that day. But then I wonder how often I have missed a clue when talking to another, not understanding that they weren’t feeling as good as they looked, and I realize I need to look deeper. I need to use what I am learning in my fight with chronic health issues to reach out to others who may also be in pain.
That’s what the Apostle Paul said to us in 2 Corinthians 1, a chapter that outlines for the believer the reasons behind afflictions of any sort. He says we are to look to God for comfort and once we’ve received it, we can use that comfort to help others (verses 3 and 4). It is this comfort that produces patient endurance in us and assists us to help others also endure with patience (verse 6). Paul says that these hardships happen so we remember to rely on God and not ourselves, for God will deliver us (verse 13). And finally, as we make our way through our difficulties and to the other side, not only we ourselves but many others will give thanks to God for the answer to prayer (verse 11). So these valleys in life also teach us to pray for others who are going through their own valleys.
There isn’t a simple answer to life’s difficulties. The book of Job teaches us that sometimes God allows things into our lives to help us realize His ultimate authority. We like to ask ‘why’ but maybe a better question is, ‘what should I be learning?’ Paul’s letter makes it clear that it’s really not about us, it’s about others. It’s about relying on God and trusting that He will deliver, in His time, as He has the ultimate say in what will happen. It’s about praying for others and allowing them to pray for us so that when the answer comes, everyone will learn to turn their praise and thanks to God, the Great Physician.
It has been said that if you are dwelling too much on your own dark situation, the best way to lighten up is to reach out to someone else. Perhaps we all need to think more about others than ourselves. Then together we will learn to comfort each other with the comfort we have received from God. Because everybody’s got something.
By Lorraine Walker
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