I recently spent some time with my elderly father.  He has aged decades since my mom died a few years ago and has undergone many changes in the recent months. While it has been hard to watch his decline from afar, the up close and personal view was much harder.  

I confess I spent my fair share of the weekend rather melancholy. People helpers are often thought of as carefree, or even invincible. Those we help see us as able to handle most anything that happens in life, and mistakenly believe we “have all the answers.” 

I found this quote and thought it was appropriate: “If those whose lives are marked by quiet desperation, who are painfully aware of their trials and sufferings are going to seek out the Christian for help, it will not be because we appear to live lives that are free from trials but because we are honest about our own sufferings and difficulties.” (Author unknown)

It seems many of us in God’s service seem to have more than our share of problems in this life. How we handle them means everything to those who observe us. So you know, I don’t claim to have all this figured out…I have had my share of sorrowful days and I have had my trials of various kinds (James 1:2-4). I know that as a result of those trials occasionally I am sad, anxious, or upset, and I suspect at times it is reflected in my countenance. 

I have not made a practice of hiding my sorrows, struggles, and failures because I believe it is an encouragement to watch a struggle and see the person come out on the other side stronger in the Lord, like gold that has been refined by fire.  

Those who have shared their thoughts with me about me have said they appreciate this my transparency, because it helps them to know I am real and can identify with them. 

In the midst of life’s trials what I hope people see first and foremost is Christ in me. I hope they see the joy of the Lord despite my own personal troubles. I hope they can see the love of Jesus emulating from me as I continue to serve others in spite of what I may be facing each day. 

I also hope they can see hope even in the midst of the negative circumstances that surround me. While my emotions may waver from time to time, my hope in Christ is secure and strong. I believe God is actively at work in my life and my heart through difficult circumstances.  I believe that God is bringing Romans 8:28-29 to life in me by my trials.  I long to be like Christ and to be conformed to His image. I believe God selects the most effective way to remove the dross from my life.  If there were an easier, softer way to conform my heart and life He would have chosen it for me. 

I hope they will also see and hear that I am “real” and not be threatened by that. It is so sad that some people are threatened by the humanity of people they (for lack of a better way to say it) look up to, or consider a role model. Paul was real, Jesus was real, Peter was very real… They all spoke out of the humanity and frailty at times. Jesus even sweat great drops of blood in His humanity! 

You see, I honestly believe we do each other a great disservice when we tell those  who ask how we are that we are “fine” when we are not. How can we help others to know how to handle times of discouragement and sorrow when we won’t admit we have them? 

It is important to let people know who you are- the good and bad. Let others see you struggle and rejoice. This brings 2 Corinthians 1 to life and brings glory to God! 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.