Page 226 was a Monday and for the most part I was able to spend it in a rather routine way. For some people, that first sentence may sound discouraging; but for me, routine is usually a good thing. I began the day taking care of bathrooms and trash to have the building ready for the start of school. Once the building was ready and I had done my walk-through, I settled into a Monday writing mode. I began with the writing of yesterday’s page as it just wasn’t coming together last night. I still prefer writing them at the end of the day, but sometimes the thoughts of the day just need more time to process in my mind before they would be suitable to share.
Once the page was written, it was time to settle in with God to put together the prayer guide for next week. There was a lot on my mind and I considered a variety of topics before feeling comfortable that living with compassion was the direction God would have me write. God calls each of us to who compassion to one another just as He has shown compassion to us through His Son, Jesus. Yet as I spent time in prayer and writing, I began to realize compassion is something that mankind is not all that good at. The problem with compassion is that its very heart we are required to not only recognize the suffering of others, we must voluntarily suffer with them as we work together to resolve the cause of the suffering. Many times we will reach the point of recognizing the suffering of others but our response usually looks more like trying to fix the problem from a distance rather than joining them and working on it from within. Suffering tends to make us uncomfortable whether it is our suffering or the sufferings of others. Sometimes we even try to silence the suffering of others so that we don’t feel guilty about not joining them in it . . . or even about being a part of the cause of it. God’s desire is that we have compassion — suffer together with someone — not for the purpose of having a pity party, but so that we can stand on common ground and lift each other up.
This was a tough prayer guide to write as I thought about the suffering within our nation and even my own suffering. Each prayer guide I write is bathed in prayer and comes out of my prayer time, but this one seemed to require more effort in prayer than many of the others. It was early afternoon by the time it was written and then I took the time to format it and schedule it to be published Sunday on my website and to my email list. Once it was completed and scheduled, the afternoon was almost gone and it had become a longer workday than I had planned. It was way too late for lunch, so I headed home and worked on another round of my Upper Peninsula trip photos before firing up the pellet grill to make supper. As supper cooked, I wandered around the front yard taking photos. Today’s photo is of a scene that caught my eye as a bee crawled across the surface of a sunflower head. It made me think of how important it is for each of us to do our part in a way that benefits not only us, but also benefits the body of Christ as a whole. As the bees travel from flower to flower collecting nectar as a food source, they also collect pollen that the carry with them so that the pollination of plants take place. The work that the bees do for their own benefit is also an important benefit to the entire plant world and all that depend on it for survival, including you and I. In a similar way, God designed us to not only be dependent on Him, but to also have a need for one another in order to grow into complete maturity with Christ as our head.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- Routines can help keep me focused when my mind seems to be drowning in a swirling tide-pool of thoughts.
- Some days it takes longer to collect my thoughts into somewhat useful writings than it does on other days.
- When I’m not sure what to write, I remind myself that my daily writings have a purpose greater than just filling another page — they serve as a journal which reminds me of lessons God is teaching.
- Some weeks I have a topic before me that is easy and fun to write about. Other weeks the topic challenges me not only in my writing, but also in my living.
- Having someone willing to suffer with you seems to be a rare thing.
- Being willing to suffer with someone else also seems to be quite rare.
- Real compassion ought to change the way we interact with those who are suffering.
- When we offer solutions to those who are suffering without genuinely listening to them, we probably haven’t really offered a solution at all.
- When I suffer with someone, I am more likely to seek out real solutions to the suffering than simply offering quick-fix schemes that have little chance of helping.
- In the body of Christ, we all have a part that is important not only to us, but to the entire body.
- When we do our part in a way that benefits others, we too are helped.