Today’s chapter: 2 Samuel 19
Not long ago I was walking through a parking lot and stepped on a nail. It came straight up through the sole of my shoe and punctured my foot. At that moment I was thinking about only one thing: how to make the pain stop.
That’s how we normally respond to discomfort in our lives. We want to address it directly and make it go away. When we’re hungry, we eat. When we’re bored, we find entertainment. When we’re cold, we put on a jacket. We deal with the issue so we can be comfortable again.
Sometimes, though, we encounter things in life that hurt in a way that we can’t do much to alleviate. People say things about us that are hurtful or untrue. We find out that someone we love is very sick. We have a friend who is struggling with their marriage or dealing with issues with their kids. When we can’t do anything to make a situation better, we feel stuck.
David is grieving the death of his son, Absalom. Clearly, there is nothing he can do to fix the situation. It just hurts. Joab points out to King David, though, that there is something he can do. In fact, there is something he needs to do.
David’s soldiers are in need of encouragement. They need for their king to take his focus off of his own problems, as real and bad as they are, and choose to encourage them. They have risked their lives for him and need to know he appreciates them. So with Joab’s prompting, David does the right thing. Despite his own sorrow, he goes out to the gateway and gives his men what they need.
Often when we’re hurting, we rationalize why our pain exempts us from ministering to others. Because we’re in need of help, we think we’re in no shape to help anyone else. We decide that we don’t have to concern ourselves with being compassionate until we’re healthier or richer or more stable or problem-free or better off than we are now.
What we overlook is that our struggle helps us better relate to the struggles of others, so we can have true empathy. We don’t need to have all the answers to other people’s problems and we don’t need to pretend to have it all together. Instead, our imperfect lives give us the credibility to encourage them in their challenges, even when we don’t feel encouraged ourselves.
Fulfillment doesn’t come from having your own needs met. Fulfillment in life comes from giving your life away. It’s counter-intuitive, but true.
Happiness doesn’t come as a result of happy circumstances. Happiness stems from a relationship with God and connecting with our purpose. As we shift our focus from ourselves to the needs of others, we begin to realize this is what we were made for. And our own challenges begin to become a lot more bearable.
Regardless of what’s going on in your own life, find a way to brighten someone else’s day. Identify a need and meet it. Whether someone needs a cold drink, some encouragement, a listening ear, or a word of appreciation, give the person what he/she needs. Don’t be surprised if it changes your own situation. As Solomon wrote in Proverbs 11:25 – A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Who will you meet a need for today? What will you do?