Lately, I’ve been compiling a list of the stupid, stupid things people say and then try to pass off as ‘spiritual wisdom’. No doubt you’ve noticed that some folks simply can’t come to terms with their own particular ‘difficult situation’ without demanding that God give them some sort of ‘reason’ why they have to deal with whatever surprise has developed in their life. When God refuses their unreasonable request for a reason they concoct reasons of their own.
Here’s one: “The Lord places the heaviest burdens on those with the strongest shoulders.” What a bunch of Grade A poo-poo kah-kah!!!! How is it possible for anyone to spit those words out without getting hives from the pure absurdity of the statement? It shouldn’t take a whole lot of thinking out of anyone — be she a believer, or a non-believer, or an ex-believer or a scoffer — to realize that there are multitudes of helpless, neglected, abused and wretched individuals who are dealing with impossible situations, who are — in other words — attempting to carry crosses they couldn’t possibly budge. At the same time, if we are honest, we see that there are folks blessed with enormous resources who are carrying a cross they could clip on their key ring and never have to think about.
There is no relationship whatsoever between the degree of a person’s difficulties and a person’s capacity to deal with those difficulties. None. Zip. Nada. If you try to pretend there is, you’re going to impair your ability to use logic and reason. The idea is patently stupid; and worse, it’s plain mean.
The thing about crosses — and this really is a slice of spiritual wisdom — is that we’re supposed to help carry each other’s crosses. As it happens, difficulty has come my way of late. I have a very sick mother who’s had four hospitalizations and a trip to rehab over the past two months. I have a wife with a malignant brain tumor. No fun for me! 😦 People say, “How are you doing, Paul? How are you bearing up?” The answer, and this is really so important, is that I’ve gotten by “with a little help from my friends”.
Simply put, my cross is too heavy for me — it’s not even a point worth debating. Pam’s cross is too heavy for her. My mother’s cross is too heavy as well, as is my daughter’s. Without you, I collapse. Without you, we all collapse.
I have an ocean of gratitude for all the people who’ve lately come to our aid. Please, please, please expect to be showered with my appreciation; but (I wouldn’t tell you this if it weren’t true) don’t expect a medal. You’ve only been doing what God expects you to do. Giving aid to others isn’t optional, it isn’t something you can choose to do. It’s your job! It’s my job too. My only purpose in life is to help you lug your cross around — your only purpose in life is to help me.
Don’t waste a minute trying to figure out why some people have heavier crosses than others. In fact, you ought to cease and desist from assigning responsibility for the various crosses you notice as you go through the day. Just get working! Whose job is it to help out the South African orphan who’s lost both his parents to the AIDS epidemic? Who does God expect to educate the poverty stricken children in the mountains of Guatemala? Who’s got the assignment of providing aid to the young girl who discovers, to her horror, that she’s carrying a baby she couldn’t possibly take care of, a baby who (unless she’s helped) will completely ruin her chances of having a happy and successful life?
Why did God give such heavy crosses to these unfortunates? Why would it even matter if we were all unhesitating in the help we give each other?
Do you subscribe to the philosophy of self-reliance? Do you think we should all take control of our lives, and accept full responsibility for the way things work out for us? Do you suppose that we all get the kind of life we ‘deserve’? I don’t. The policy of “every dog for himself” doesn’t hold any appeal to me. I’m not ashamed to ask you to help me when things get tough, and I’m more than eager to help you in your difficulty. The Bible is right. Jesus is here to help each one of us — but each one of us has to supply Jesus with the heart and mind and strength he needs to make that assistance manifest.
Thank you for being wonderful!