Sometimes when I pay a pastoral visit to someone who has not been well or who is going through a difficult time in their life, I am often told: ‘But there are many people who are a lot worse off than I am.’
I am invariably rather humbled by that response –because I know that I myself would not like to have to endure what they are having to go through.
I feel that to have that positive attitude to adversity says a lot about the person and the way they look at life. They are able to see that while they are experiencing difficulties – they are not alone in this.
That they see life as being not only being about them – but about others as well. And I feel that having that kind of attitude results in someone becoming more compassionate towards others.
Sometimes people can be so wrapped up in their own problems that they fail to see that there are other people around them who are having problems too – some less serious, some more serious than theirs. The reality is that nobody really has a life where everything goes right all the time. And it is misguided to think that anyone can escape completely from life’s difficulties. If people feel that when they have problems then they will have to suffer alone, then that tends to add to their difficulties.
However if people feel that there are other people who will look out for them when times are hard, then they feel much more positive about the future. When Jesus came into our world one of the things he did was to reassure his followers that if they asked for help then God would provide it – sometimes through the help that Jesus’ followers would provide.