This morning I was reading from a new book by Ed Welch, a biblical counselor who has written deeply about many aspects of spiritual care. The book is entitled “Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love.” He is writing about ordinary people caring for the those who are hurting while also being honest about their own pain and need for help. Consider this passage from the beginning of chapter 1:
“Life is hard to manage single-handedly. That’s why we are needy. Life is also good, but it is hard. There is never a day when we have immunity from difficult circumstances.
To admit that is not complaining. It is simply true. Jesus said, ‘In the world you will have tribulation” and if we stop to think about those tribulations, we realize they are unending:
-job and financial unknowns
– local violence
– too much to do
– family struggles
Why do we bother identifying such hardships? We do it because human beings do best when they take their hardships public to God and at least one other person. When we survey the psalms, we discover that this is God’s desire for us.
‘To you O Lord, I cry
and to the Lord I plead for mercy‘
Through psalms like this one, the Lord essentially says to us. ‘Come to me with your hardships. That’s what children do with their father.’ The hard things of life are important to God, they are important to us, and we will labor to put them into speech.”
One reason this and other passages spoke to me powerfully is because I had just written about the bitter fruit of having a chronically negative attitude. After reading it, I wanted to make sure that in seeking to cultivate a positive thankful attitude that we do not miss his point. We must not go to the other extreme and stuff our true pain and neediness. We are made for relationship and these connections are strengthened by shared need. Sharing our struggles is hard and requires humility. We should take great pleasure in serving and being served. Being honest about our true needs is not complaining. Sharing a hardship is not negativity. We can all grow in both thankfulness and honest sharing of our pain. How are you doing in that regard?