Redeeming the Bad Times
by Wayne Harmon
“I don’t understand why a man would get drunk just because he thinks he has problems!”
“I don’t understand why a man would take drugs just to make himself feel good!”
“I don’t understand … !”
That was the gist of a sermon I heard many years ago. The preacher was in full rant mode, wiping the spittle from his mouth during each “Amen”. The congregation was nodding vigorously between “Amens”, looking like a bunch of those bobble-head dogs people used to put in the back windows of their cars.
At this point the preacher had them in such a state he would have received “Amens” if he has said something as obvious as “Water is wet”, or as absurd as “The moon is made of green cheese.”
I went to him later and asked, “You don’t understand how someone could have a problem with drugs or alcohol?”
“No, I don’t!” he replied.
“Then how could you possibly help anyone when you don’t understand their problems?”
I wasn’t very popular with him after that.
But the point is that if we don’t understand another person’s struggles, then we may end up doing more harm than good if we try to help them.
If people come to us with their problems, we can’t respond with some empty platitude or Bible verse. They aren’t coming to have their problems solved. They just want to know that they aren’t facing them alone.
And please don’t start talking about the time something bad happened to you!!
I have friend who recently had an accident with a table saw. He lost one finger and badly damaged the others. His whole hand is mangled, and his work as a builder may be over.
As he was telling me about the accident, I was reminded of a number of construction related accidents I have both witnessed and experienced over the past 40+ years. But he didn’t need to hear my stories. He didn’t need to be told that some have been injured worse, or that some had died. He just needed my compassion and friendship.
Life does some bad things to all of us. One of the ways we can redeem those difficult times is to let our experiences make us more compassionate and understanding when others suffer.
That’s a big part of being a friend.
Copyright 2016: Wayne Harmon