by David Phelps
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa
We received some bad news recently: our friend, Rich, had lost his daughter, Tracy. She was thirty one years old, and recovering nicely from a double lung transplant, the result of a lifetime of affliction with Cystic Fibrosis. She and her husband had been talking about starting a family. Then, she was readmitted to the hospital with pneumonia, and died on the operating table. (Let me emphasize that this is not Tracy Lewis, a member of our church who is awaiting a kidney transplant.)
My wife, Charlotte, and I spent some time talking about it, after we heard the news. Afterward, I felt compelled to hug our four-year-old daughter, Monica. I tried to imagine how Rich must be feeling.
One night, during a storm on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples asked Jesus, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” (Mk. 4:38b RSV).
Jesus responded by calming the storm. Then he chided the disciples for their lack of faith (Mk. 4:39-40).
I have to admit that I sometimes ask the same question the disciples asked, more often than I care to say: “Lord, don’t you care? Can’t you see how desperate I am?”
Of course, in my saner moments, I know God does care. But I also know I’m not alone in asking. There are people all around us who need to know God cares. It’s up to us to express that caring. Just as we are the instruments of God’s peace, so we are the vessels of God’s compassion. A word of comfort, a card, a phone call, a visit—any of these can say “God cares, and so do I.”
I’ll confess that I’m not especially good at this sort of thing. Perhaps you aren’t either. But God doesn’t always ask us to do the things that are easy or comfortable; sometimes, God simply asks us to do the things that are necessary. Persons who are desperate or coping with tragedy don’t have it easy. Jesus didn’t take the easy way; instead, he took the way that led to the cross. Can we do any less? What is our momentary discomfort, compared to his hours of agony? There’s a whole world of hurting, grieving people around us. We must convey God’s caring, not only to other Christians but to others outside our own circle of faith.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (Jas. 1:27 RSV.)