As I struggled to find the right theme for this morning’s blog, we received news of medical issues affecting several of our dear friends.  That call brings one back to the issues which are truly important quite rapidly, even though they may not directly affect us as individuals.  These issues affect those we love as dear friends, as members of our church community, and as among those who teach us the important lessons of this life.

There is the nagging question for me in such situations that comes back to this basic theme:  How would I handle that news were it to be coming to me from my physician?  How strong would the faith I believe I have be in the face of those kinds of pronouncements?  Would I carry myself with the grace with which these friends carry themselves?  Would I be concerned for them even as I have issues to be concerned about?

The old saw about us walking a mile in the others’ shoes came back this morning, and whatever angst I might’ve been feeling over my tiny concerns were quickly relegated to their true stature: they are tiny inconsequential concerns by comparison to the concerns of others.

We have human examples that show us the way and yet we don’t recognize those for what they bring to us often enough.  They are outwardly strong no matter what they may be feeling on the inside.  They are truly concerned for others even as they have personal issues that might overwhelm if permitted to do so.

One of the great gifts in this life is that we are served by examples all along this road we’re traveling.  We have examples of what we should avoid just as we have examples of what we should strive to become especially when things are not necessarily going as we’d prefer.

We have examples available to us almost every waking moment of every day.  We don’t need to know these people’s names.  We can see their situation and we can see how they deal with those situations.  When they are dear to us already, their examples mean so much more to us for we know them and we feel for them and we pray for them and their loved ones.

So often we say “we’ll pray for you”.  We do so with a faith that tells us no matter the earthly outcome, there is a much more important and lasting outcome for us all.  That knowledge is key from my perspective to be able to reflect that which it is important to reflect to others who observe us as we walk through that valley.

We are examples in our regular everyday lives.  I can name them easily and I look forward to interacting with them because I always walk away the better for that interaction.  Those examples are especially significant when they continue to minister to our individual needs when our needs dwindle to nothing in comparison to their needs.

There is a special grace about them in the way they deal with their personal situations, and in the way they work diligently to help others in their situations.  Their personal situations seem to always take a back seat to the situations of others no matter that there might seemingly be degrees of magnitude separating them as we see those issues.

I am blessed in that I walk with a lot of those people who show me how I ought to walk, how I ought to be more concerned for others than to sink into despair over my small issues or problems.  Just being exposed to them, even second or third-hand works wonders for us because that is who they are and that is what they do.  They help us by their examples.

Takeaways?  Simple, really.  Get over angst and despair for self and help others who need your help far more than you need their help at that moment.  As usual, that really is more a help to us who need it than to those who we might minister to at the time.

Ministering to others is great, but we also need be cognizant always that by that ministering to others, we are helping ourselves more than we could with ten times the worry for self.  That is the way God made us, and that is all we have to do to move beyond our personal concerns.

So, we square our shoulders, hold our heads high and wear a smile for others whether or not we know them.  By giving that smile away, we help ourselves even more than we help others.

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