One day as he wallowed in self-pity, I told him he was a fortunate man. It made him angry. He wanted pity. He glared at me in my wheelchair and incurable MS and told me in no uncertain terms that I did not know what suffering was all about ... only he knew suffering.
He could not see passed his own self-absorption. I told him that although he did not want to hear it, yes, he was fortunate in life. As he sat with his quivering bottom lip sticking out I could not help but find his self-pity party rather hard to endure.
A mental image was still fresh in my mind. A few days earlier I had been in some some American city (I can't remember which one now) speaking at a conference about disability. A mother approached me after my presentation and shared her personal sorrow. Her 21 year old son was profoundly disabled and non-verbal. Her eyes filled with tears as she told me how often she had fantasized about hearing her son calling her "mom". It broke my heart to hear of such a simple wish.
I told my depressed friend about this mother's grief. As we sat in his 6,000 square foot home, I looked out the window at the tennis court in his backyard and hoped he would reflect on the raw human suffering of another parent. The sound of his own perfect children's happy play could be heard coming from the next room. He was unmoved. He wallowed on.
I relate this story to illustrate a point: Never fall into the trap of
thinking your grief is the worst grief. It is not. Your grief may have unique aspects but it is not unique to the human experience. Everybody has or will experience sorrow as great or greater than what you experienced. If fact, I suspect that you would not have to look far to find somebody in greater pain at this very moment.
I do not have much use of my legs but I know there are people who have no legs. I may lament that I live in a wheelchair but not more than ten miles from me there are people who have been bedridden for years.
Christ's suffered intense physical, emotional and spiritual pain. He knew rejection and abandonment. He knew what it was like to be homeless, falsely accused and ridiculed. There is no pain He does not understand. Yet even at the height of his agony on the cross, He reached out to the agony of his mother and comforted the thief being crucified with him with assurance of salvation.
Follow Christ's example. Use your pain to comfort others.
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