(October 19, 2020) Erica Grace, ex-missionary to South America, challenges us to really care for others.
As we were waiting for the bell to ring, the children were running all over the school playground. Suddenly ‘Adam’ (not real name) tripped and fell down the concrete steps, right by my feet.
I reached down to help him but his mother stopped me, saying, ‘He’ll be right. I don’t want him to be a whinger.’ Then she turned to Adam and said, ‘Get up, Adam. Men don’t cry!’
My eyes followed little Adam as he got up and limped behind a bush to rub his little knees and wipe away his tears. Yes, little Adam will never become a whinger.
People need to share!
A few days later I sat waiting for a bus at the Ringwood station. We were having a heat wave and even the shade was hot. Suddenly an elderly lady came from nowhere and sat right next to me, so close to me that she was in fact sitting on the edge of my dress!
In my heart I felt annoyed, she had so much bench space; why sit so close on such a hot day.
My heart broke for her. I wondered if some Christian had missed sharing his (or her) testimony with this young man, if someone had had opportunity but didn’t take it? Had he never even heard of God? Had he never heard, never known, that Christians care for other people?
As I meditated on this I wondered if the same thing could happen to little Adam when he grows up.
Why must we insist on bringing up our children to suppress pain – for what? So they can commit suicide in the prime of their lives? The statistics on suicide in Australia are staggering… and on the increase. Each year over 2,000 people take their lives. That’s about five deaths a day due to suicide! We learn some too that Christians have suicided.
Sharing burdens is not whinging!
Regrettably this ‘Don’t dare share: it’s whinging’ ideology is found in Christian circles.
Not too long ago a speaker was preaching to missionaries quoting (wrongly) Galatians 6:5, ‘For each one should carry his own load.’ He used this to admonish us to carry our own troubles and not have a victim attitude when sharing with congregations.
I think he was trying to say, ‘We only want to hear good reports from you all, no whinging missionaries, please.’ But that verse is referring to that fact that everyone is accountable before God for our own responsibilities and stewardship! NLT reads: ‘For we are each responsible for our own conduct’ and the Message Bible reads, ‘Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.’
- This is more the biblical way.
- This means that we help each other when life’s trials and burdens become too heavy.
- This pleases the Lord! After all, we are meant to function as a body – not independent organs!
When my toe is infected and hurts, the rest of my body compensates. I try not to walk on that foot, I handle it with great care and bathe it in warm water. It would be ridiculous for me to try to ignore the problem and squeeze it into tight shoes.
As silly as this may seem, this is what we do when members of the body of Christ are suffering, we ignore the problem! When suffering brothers and sisters-in-Christ try to share their pain they are wrongly treated with indifference and even condemnation!
A wrong ‘unwritten rule’?
I’ve often wondered why some Christians leave the church when going through times of extreme trials and problems. Could it be that we have an unwritten rule among us that says we are never to confess defeat and sickness because it may seem we are deficient in faith and others will brand us as ‘whingers’?
The reality is that if we can’t share our burdens with brothers and sisters in the Lord, with whom can we do it? And here I bring a serious challenge… Can you tell the difference between someone ‘whinging’ and someone needing to ‘share the burden’?
Have we wrongly become quite selfish with our time, knowing that to truly help someone else ‘carry the burden’ will mean a sacrifice to us? Yes, it will take time, it will mean getting emotionally involved… and who knows what else. But dare we take on the challenge? Or is it easier to fob it off and rationalise it all by saying ‘It’s none of my business anyway.’
The Luke 10 parable of the Good Samaritan has left us a lesson that is worth remembering. Those that passed by the wounded man on the road were all religious, pious people. But quite frankly, good for nothing. The one who stopped and ‘shared the burden’ saved the man’s life.
- Yes, it took time.
- He had to give up his donkey.
- He even had to give up some of his money.
- All this for a stranger. Not only that, an enemy.
- But in the end, he has left his imprint as a worthy example to follow. One that would bring eternal reward.
Be a Good Samaritan – help carry the load!
On behalf of us ‘whingers’ I’d like to encourage you to dust off your listening ear and pay attention to your Christian sister or brother who may need someone to help ‘carry the load.’ A sympathetic ear is all they may need.
And not just other Christians! There are those who don’t know Jesus needing a listening ear, especially in this trying pandemic time with its uncertainties.
Who knows, you may even save a life. I would hate to think that the one I branded as a ‘whinger’ took his or her life because of having no one to talk to.
Postscript: Oh, little Adam (and his like), I hope and pray you do learn to whinge sometimes. It might even do you some good.
Erica Grace, author of Foundations for the Family, a biblical teaching series suitable for whole congregations, and her husband Chris were missionaries for over 20 years in Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile. Now itinerant ministers their links are: email@example.com / 0408 483 358
What a wonderful, wonderful article. This speaks of of the attitude and behaviour we should have always but especially during these times
Yes indeed… we can all reach out and be an encouraging blessing to others. The windows of opportunity are there to be found/observed/acted on.