This has been a trying season of late. Not for me, but for so many of my friends and family members. Everywhere I turn I find people that are precious to me struggling financially, emotionally, with their own health and the health of their loved ones, with their careers and even in matters of faith. Some people reach out in desperation, with weeping and tears of grief. Others seem to be holding up under the pressure, maybe because they have too many other responsibilities to allow themselves to cave or maybe because they have such a strong support system that they don't have to. Others seem to approach their pain by closing themselves off, becoming bitter, sarcastic and pushing others away.
I have never walked a mile in any of my friends shoes, but I know I've been through pain before, and I know that I've approached it in a variety of ways. All I know is that we are not meant to carry our burdens alone. The Bible is clear that we are to cast our cares upon the Lord, and as if that weren't enough, we are also called to carry one another's burdens. Unfortunately, our culture is one that prides itself on self-sufficiency. Asking for help is considered a sign of weakness. I don't think anything could be further from the truth. To me, not asking for help when you need it is the greatest sign of weakness.
While I was running yesterday, I had my ipod on the shuffle setting. As I arrived at my front door, a gospel song came on and the lyrics said this:
I need you,
You need me,
We're all a part of God's body.
You are important to me,
I need you to survive.
When we learn to depend on others and allow them to depend on us, this is when true relationship, true community occurs. This is the body of Christ that is described in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. I wish more people, especially Americans, understood this truth and lived by it instead of stigmatizing those who reach out for help and admit their weaknesses.
Perhaps my favorite Bible verse is 2 Corinthians 12:9, in which the Lord says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Later Paul says, "When I am weak, then I am strong." When I come to the end of my own strength, (which is an illusion any way), when I come to the end of myself, then I can understand what true strength and power looks and feels like.