One of the oddest idiosyncrasies of North American culture takes place every day. Actually, for many people, multiple times a day. Many people from other parts of the world find it very strange. They would actually say it’s less than sincere at best and downright dishonest at worst. If you haven’t guessed what I’m talking about already, see if you can identify with this scenario:
Person A: “Charlie”
Person B: “Megatron” (I’ll admit it: I was a big fan of Transformers as a kid, and three blockbuster flops can’t change that)
“Charlie”: Why hello, Megatron, how’re things going with you?
“Megatron”: Pretty good, thanks, and you?
“Charlie”: I’m doing pretty good, too.
Now, poor grammar aside, there’s nothing “good” about either of their lives right now. Megatron is dealing with his latest setback from Optimus Prime and Co, and Charlie’s demise is imminent at the hands of Megatron, who’s pouting and breaking stuff instead of dealing with his emotions. Just like any other kid. Just like any other 3000 tonne-with-more-firepower-than-all-the-world’s-armies-put-together kid. But that’s what all of us do on a regular basis: we say we’re fine when in reality there’s a lot going on in our lives and we’re less than fine.
When I thought about this today I said to myself, “maybe I should just be more honest with people. Besides, I’ve often got a lot that’s not so great going on.” And I started into a bit of a litany of everything going on (you can read that as “going wrong”) in my life. It was the beginnings of a full-on, no holds barred pity party for one person, me. My guess is you might be starting your own pity party for yourself right now as you read this.
My peace was all set to get derailed with self-pity, and yours will be too if you keep going. You can get back into it in a sec if you really want, but first let me ask you a question: what do you and I have to complain about really? Maybe it’s about work or people who don’t understand us or suffering in our lives or in the life of someone we love. At least, that’s where I was going with it until I remembered: Someone else I know was abandoned by those He loved. He was misunderstood and suffered. Struggling with rough job prospects? He knew His job was leading to His death and He went for it anyway. And He did it for me. He did it for you.
Hang on though, aren’t my problems legitimate? I mean, this suffering and difficulty is real. That’s just it, it is real. Jesus’ suffering was real too. He knows what pain and suffering feel like and He’s there to shoulder the burden with you. You don’t have to do the solo pity party thing, because you’re not alone and He understands what you’re going through. In His own words and the words of one who knew Him best: Jesus understands our weakness, having become one like us in all things except sin, and He promises “I am with you always, even until the end of time.”
So next time someone asks you how things are going, maybe try being a bit more honest than we’re used to and say, “things aren’t necessarily great, but that’s okay because” and share your reason for hope in the midst of everything going on in your life. Who knows? Maybe the person asking you could use a little hope!
Read my reason for hope here: http://vancouver.cco.ca/2010/12/17/be-not-afraid-but-i-was-ian-anderson/