Yesterday at school I ran into a parent in the hall. I knew the family was going through a round of challenges related to a son who has cystic fibrosis. I asked the dad how things were going. His quick response was, "Fine, just fine."
I've been there and done that! For years when my boys were growing up, I had a series of very serious health issues. I spent many days in the hospital over about 10 years. We tried to live as normally as possible - whatever normal is.
For several reasons, among them being that I hate complainers and hate to complain and also because I know many people don't really want to hear it - I found myself with a similar mantra to my student's father - "Fine, just fine." Often people teased me (and still do) that fine is my stock answer. It was and still is probably.
One Sunday morning years ago I was walking down the hall at church when an elder passed by. Without breaking stride he asked, "How are you, Ann?" I did not give my usual reply. Instead I answered, "Well, I just found out I have to have brain surgery." He kept going as he said over his shoulder, "That's great! I'm glad to hear it!" I admit it was a test of sorts with no small amount of sarcasm on my part, but it gave me a valuable insight into how many people like me cope. Put on a happy face!
That's NOT how it's supposed to work in the Body of Christ! We are to bear one another's burdens. (Gal. 6:2) Paul says that's how we can fulfill the law of Christ. We cannot possibly bear a burden we don't know about which requires energy and persistence on the part of one partner in the burden-bearing process. It requires developing the art of listening well. It also requires vulnerability and humility on the part of the burdened! Putting on a happy face, hiding, wearing the fine mask do not fulfill the law of Christ nor lift any loads.
Lord Jesus, make me sensitive to see and be willing to help carry the needs of others even at the personal sacrifice of energy, time and heart. Help me to be willing to risk. Help me to share my own pain both for my good and for the good of others. Help me to be willing to share my own needs! Help us all to fulfill the law of Christ by being what the Body of Christ is supposed to be! Thank You that I don't have to hide behind a happy face when the reality is something else! I pray for the sake of Your Kingdom!