You are likely thinking that is an absurd question. Who wants to be miserable, right?
Misery comes to us all and it has many forms. It comes in illness, accidents, loss, loneliness, betrayal, any and all forms of suffering. Make no mistake about it – life is harder than we might have thought it would be. We need much encouragement and support from one another to navigate the rough seas and rocky shores. Sometimes that is hard to find, and it is then apparent there is only One who can be there all the time – day or night, holidays, and weekends.
There is no reason to look for misery. It will find us from time to time, but when it does there is a snare that can occur in us as well. We naturally can get lost in the misery. It becomes our major focus, and the struggle is real and can be prolonged to what seems unendurable lengths of time. Over time the enemy can use it to add to the misery we already are experiencing if we are not watchful.
In my undergraduate college days, I took a course in Children’s Literature that required I make a collection of poems and quotes that could be a resource when I became a teacher. Even though I still have that collection all these years later, I recall few of the treasures I discovered in completing the project save one. That one has echoed in my mind and heart often since then and it points to a truth that confronts us in times when we become focused on the struggle.
“If you wish to be miserable, think about yourself, about what you want, what you like, what respect people ought to pay you, what people think of you; and then to you nothing will be pure. You will spoil everything you touch; you will make sin and misery for yourself out of everything God sends you; you will be as wretched as you choose.”Charles Kingsley
Those words are hard to hear. Maybe that is because they speak such piercing truth. In a life touched or permeated with suffering from any and all forms, it seems to be paradoxical to ask us to look beyond the keen pain and need we feel for ourselves to see how this can ensnare us and add to the pain and misery we already feel. It can cause us to doubt anyone cares about us or considers our difficulty, even the Lord. We may not recognize how this impacts the anguish we may feel already.
What do we do when we recognize our own relational poverty?
Our response to that question is important and significant. We are tempted to think that surely no one, not even the Lord, would expect me to be able to look beyond my own suffering. We have nothing to give. Isn’t it time to be able to receive?
What do we see Christ pointing to in such times? He tells the story of the widow who gives her last penny. He asks the man by the well who has waited for someone else to help him into the healing waters if he really wants to get well. In the midst of the anguish of untold suffering on the cross, He responds to the thief on the cross beside Him.
It costs us little to pray for others whether we know all they are dealing with or not. It costs us little to thank someone who tends to us in our suffering whether it is a nurse, another caregiver, a friend, neighbor, family member, or the Lord. It costs us little other than looking outside ourselves to notice someone else. And when we do, it is amazing what can happen.
Too often we think that serving or blessing someone else means some formalized ministry or program or giving money. Those are good, but sometimes we miss the opportunities right in front of us – the person waiting on us who looks tired that we can encourage even in a small way by a smile, a word of appreciation, or even asking if there is something we can pray for them about. When we notice such things, we are much like Jesus because that is what He did.
“Sometimes I think the best gift that can be given to someone in need is a long afternoon together on a shady porch with a pitcher of iced tea.”Margaret Feinberg in The Sacred Echo
“And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”Matthew 10:42 (NLT)
What can I give out of my poverty?
What can you?