Ahhh . . . another Friday. On a workday that began at 6 this morning I’m taking a break at 8 PM to write today’s page while the floor scrubber recharges. My morning was filled with the usual cleaning, a little writing, and a lot of outside work with the weedeater. The lawn work and cleaning up after it took me until mid-afternoon and then it was time for a late lunch and a short visit to the river. After shooting a few photos at the riverwalk, it was back to work to begin the afternoon/evening rounds of getting the building ready for Sunday.
The photo today was taken in the gardens by the river. I look at it and think, “Even the sunflowers are a bit sad that summer is coming to an end.” Some days it is really hard to hold your head up and you begin to wonder, “Why bother?”. This lone sunflower was hidden in the weeds and probably rarely seen, yet it caught my eye as I scanned the area for things to photograph. I noticed it because of its beauty and brightness. It wasn’t until after I had photographed it and looked at it for a while that I even noticed its head was drooping and the flower petals were not able to stand up.
I think many times we tend to live that way. We become so distracted by the everyday routine of life that we don’t notice all of the people around us that are “hidden” in plain sight. People we walk past every day and don’t really know who they are. Sure, we may or may not know their name, but we really don’t know them. And then there are those who do catch our eye, at least for a moment, and with the glimpse we get we tell ourselves that they are doing okay. They look fine. They don’t need anything from us and we don’t need anything from them. And on we go, never stopping long enough to realize that the slump of the shoulders, the droop of the head, the halting footsteps were all signs of a weight that they shouldn’t have to carry alone. And then there are those rare times when we notice the weight someone else is carrying but we settle for the easy way out with the “church answer” — or at least half of it. We tell them to “cast their cares upon God” and let him carry their burden — and then we walk off thinking we’ve done our good deed in pointing them in the right direction. But that is only half of the “church answer”. The other half is where it gets practical — and tough. We should not only point them in the right direction, but we should step in and “bear one another’s burdens”. Far too often, if we even notice, we settle for giving words of comfort and encouragement in a way makes us come across like the friends of Job. Sometimes words are the answer. Sometimes, words by themselves seem empty and unhelpful.
James says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13) If we want to live as those who are wise and understanding, we must learn to pay attention not just to our words, but to our actions and attitudes.
I pray that you and I would pay attention to those around us who tend to go unnoticed. I pray that we would lift up the weary and wounded. I pray that we would strengthen the weak. I pray that we would listen to the lonely. I pray that we would comfort the hurting. I pray that we would bear one another’s burdens. I pray that we would do all of this through the power, strength, and ability that comes from having God’s Spirit within us.