Other People’s Problems

Many of us think
that the greatest test of the authenticity of our
faith
is the way we react to our problems.
When trouble shows up on our doorstep,
do we collapse?
do we grumble and complain?
fall into depression?
abandon our principles and our faith?
or do we turn to Jesus with courage, trust, and confidence in His care?
That’s important, sure,
but I think that what really shows our Jesus-following chops
is how we respond to
other people’s problems.
There’s no more efficient way to spot the insidious creep of
accidental Pharisee-ism
than our internal response to someone else’s affliction –
especially the affliction of people close enough
to sit in the next cubicle
or pew
or bleacher seat.
It’s funny, isn’t it,
how other people’s troubles seem so
avoidable
manageable
easy to solve, endure, ignore,
judge.
I’m amazed how many people I know
who completely deserve the problems they have,
in fact, I am frequently impressed at how wise God is at choosing
the particular problems He chooses to refine other people, to discipline them, to teach them specific lessons
so that I wonder if I should even interfere to assist lest I short-change them of God’s instruction.
I have loads of compassion for people far away.
Their problems seem to exist
to make me a better Christian,
to teach me to pray, to give, and to see beyond my own borders –
because I feel somehow served by their problems,
and by my contribution to solving them,
I am easily moved by them.
But that person down the street,
at the office,
across the table,
her problem just feels annoying,
a long story I need to patiently endure
until it’s my turn to talk.
Helping that close to home
could get messy,
uncomfortable,
costly,
and it could be wildly unrewarding,
it could backfire,
it might lead to other people wanting my help,
it might be taken for granted,
it might never end!
Plus, I’m really busy helping those people who live far away.
Maybe, again, I’m being too transparent.
This is an area where I am still in Jesus’ preschool –
maybe still in the nursery –
and for all my words
my spiritual poverty is revealed
when the person at the lunch table
starts to talk about his troubles.
Hi, my name is Lori and I’m a Christian who needs Jesus – every minute of every day
especially when I’m faced with
other people’s problems.
Is this a problem for you? (I guess after this post, I have to actually try to care.) 🙂


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5 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Edie Melson says:

    Oh yeah! This one hits home for me! Thanks so much for your transparency.

  2. Oh wow, this is SO TRUE!

  3. I must be strange, because I love to hear about the problems of others, and then try to help them solve that problem. Not that I don’t also love talking about me, because I do.

  4. I must be strange, because I love to hear about the problems of others, and then try to help them solve that problem. Not that I don’t also love talking about me, because I do.

  5. Ouch. You hit my nail on the head. 😉

    Been made freshly aware of this tendency just this week.