Changing emotions can be quite hard. Changing perspective is much easier. If we change the way we see the world, and the meaning we give to what we see and experience, we can then, change the way we feel. Increased perspective, humility, humor and acceptance – all qualities of the mind, can make greater room for the pillars of the heart; forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and generosity.
The word of the day is compassion. I’m remembering the scripture of a woman who approached Jesus and asked for healing for her daughter. Actually she was looking for a cure. Jesus response about not serving dogs still throws me off. Her come back however was a good; challenge to his humanity. Even dogs; she says, eat the crumbs from the table. Mark one for the dogs! Having had a dog I know this to be true. Clearly the people of Israel weren’t the only ones struggling and in need of salvation. This was a turning point for the young minister. Our journey will have many of these encounters, where our eyes are reopened. Our compassion for the other in this life must always be greater than our fullest understanding of what it is that we believe ourselves call to do.
Curing involves the resolution of the illness but is not always possible. Healing is coming to wholeness and could happen whether or not the illness is curable. Focus on the healing and transformation is inevitable.
To the leader. A Psalm of David.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain* in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, ‘I have prevailed’;
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”, you would not have condemned the guiltless. Matthew 12:6-7
Far too often we make assumptions that later are proven wrong. We don’t take the time to see beyond the grandiose images and exaggerated stories that people tell. We must always look deeper. We can not know the untold story without first asking, nor the burdens of century old “walls” in desperate need of maintenance, both longing for love and not judgment. Martin Luther King Jr. understood both the compassion that was necessary for human dignity and the lasting damage of promises made by false gods. His message would not be deterred nor his dream broken. In the midst of a new day we too must labor on.
“Wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Matt. 11) Wouldn’t it be nice if we just woke up all knowing, totally clued in to the world and all its ways? However, sometimes all knowing doesn’t keep us from doing the wrong thing. It’s kind of like understanding that fire is hot because of our learning, but we don’t really know that it’s hot until we try to touch it. We can’t really know something until we’ve experienced it for ourselves. If we allow Wisdom to have its way, out of those experiences, comes opportunity for growth.
Just now sitting down to write, I am reminded of Matthew 9 “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. If you’ve ever had one of those days when you feel pulled in many different directions. All the things you’ve planned for the day get pushed back or redirected but you plow through because really what else is there to do but to fulfill the call. Waiting at the end of the day was a letter in the voice of my mother that I’d written to myself and mailed by a long time friend; and a phone call from a gentleman who thanked me for helping him at a time when he needed faith the most. He’d kept his promise to call and I was encouraged once again. So tonight I rest, because the tomorrow yet again, the harvest is plentiful and I’m one of the laborers.
For various reasons, we all don’t flourish at the same time. Yet, at every moment someone is rejoicing in some flourishment. If we rejoice in our own success, and also rejoice in the success of others, then it stands to reason that we are always rejoicing. In time we should see that the practice of rejoicing, whether it be for our self or someone else, will eventually replace the negative emotions we sometimes feel when we are struggling, with the joy and happiness of God’s goodness towards all humanity. We begin to understand that the world does not revolve around us alone, but rather our interconnectedness to one another collectively and to God.
Lord, remind me to rejoice when others flourish, especially during those times when my own rejoicing seems averted, delayed or held up. Help me to conquer my impatience complicated by envy, competitiveness and judgement, with praise for your everlasting love for all.
The awesome thing about the Christian faith is that we are never alone. The sad thing is that we too often forget. Lord, open my heart everyday that I may feel and know that your presence is like chicken soup for the soul and daily may I meet the world with an offering of your warmth.
Hope is the antidote to despair. It requires faith even if it is simply the very persistence of life to find a way. An interesting situation happened just yesterday that in hindsight could have gone terribly wrong. It never crossed my mind. Somehow, amidst the deepest of defaults in our society, by the grace of God I still have hope. In fact, I can’t remember when I didn’t have hope. As early as 3 or 4 years of age I can remember hoping for something. Some things came to fruition, other things I am today still hoping for. With hope must come expectation otherwise I hope in vain. There are others who are hoping as well, some we gather with on a regular basis and others seeking for that one open door in order that they may find just enough hope to get them through the next day. We never know when God will ask us to be that open door that gives someone else the hope that we’ve stored up over so many years. So today I am reminded to hold on to the inherent goodness of humankind and let God judge the intentions of humanity. I am grateful for the blessing of hope that is within me. I am grateful especially for those who trusted me enough to help give hope to someone who needed it in the midst of their own despair. I am grateful because I realized that hope is a fruit of Love and Love, I truly believe never fails.
…And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you… Matthew 25