Have you ever experienced some particular problem or pain that surprised you by how debilitating it was? Perhaps it was a sore toe or an earache that outwardly seemed small, but it made your day a major struggle. Then along comes someone who says, “I get infections in my ear all the time, and it’s uncomfortable but I don’t let it bother me. You just need to stay positive and keep going.” Well, though we do need to strive to “give thanks in all circumstances,”1 trying to keep your head above water may be difficult for you at these times.
John sighed as he pushed his cart forward in the queue and glanced at his phone’s clock for the third time. 40 minutes already! How long can this take? A technical issue had developed in several of the supermarket’s tills, and the store’s customers were directed to queue in front of the only one that still worked. And I only have a few items, he thought, I don’t know if I can still make it to the appointment in time. The afternoon traffic will get worse—
I was amazed when I saw the colorful, intricate constructions on a YouTube video. Tiny houses, barely bigger than a doghouse, with doors, round little windows, and slanted roofs, so the rainwater would flow off. And all of them on wheels, so they could be moved. They actually looked cozy.
Unselfishness isn’t just about giving money. Sometimes it’s easier to give money than to give of ourselves. To give our time, attention, sympathy, understanding, and prayers to someone else, we have to be the “real deal.” We have to reach out, to understand, to feel compassion, and to do something about it. Often it’s those sacrifices of time that really count—such as when we give up our day off to participate in a local charity’s work or to visit someone who is sick.
When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount,1 one of the most quoted orations of all time, He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
So what is a peacemaker? A peacemaker is someone who comes into a situation that is stressful, angry, or disturbed and creates peace. This is hard and requires courage.
When it comes to the environment and climate change, it’s easy to mentally block out the topic entirely and decide that there’s nothing we can do about it—or foist the responsibility on someone else, relieving ourselves of the obligation. But God gave us the responsibility to take care of His creation, not just out of duty, but out of love for Him and His creatures. “The Lord God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it.”1 That’s the main factor that has motivated me to be more ecologically mindful.
How about playing a game where you compete only with yourself and get to do some good in the process? How about the “Game of Hearts”?
Last year, my daughter discovered her breast cancer had returned, and I found my mind becoming mired in depressive and hopeless thoughts night after night.
One day I noticed that my dentist friend, Dr. Rina, was looking a bit sad. We often meet for coffee, but today Rina wasn’t her usual bubbly self. I asked her what was wrong and she answered:
“Well, Christmas is coming up, and I’m just feeling kind of sad. As you know, both of my children are married and live far away. And I don’t have any grandchildren yet.”
On the Christmas Eve of my sophomore year in college, I was trying, and failing miserably, to feel “Christmas fuzzies.” Part of it was that the excitement of my freshman year was gone, and I was battling a bout of end-of-semester fatigue, coupled with frustration over an assignment that I’d been struggling with. I sat waiting outside my professor’s office to discuss the aforementioned problematic paper, while reminiscing wistfully on the carefree good cheer of childhood Christmas festivities.
A few years ago, our neighbors gave their female dog to a friend of theirs. Some time later, this old man died and the dog journeyed to our street, but our neighbors no longer lived there. As time went by, the dog got scrawnier and more forlorn. Soon she dug a hole under our fence and started to eat what our two dogs left in their dishes or on the ground nearby.