Opinion

Listening to our neighbour, knowing we are with God

By Riverine Herald

NONE of us has a smooth journey through life. We all hit potholes or bumps on our travels, and it is important to consider the best way to deal with our ups and downs.

Recently I was on a walk at dusk and passed a person in his driveway.

I said “hello” and he asked me how I was.

It is easiest to say “I am well, thank you” than to explain any health issues that you may be experiencing.

As I walked by, I asked him how he was, and he did not give a short answer.

He spoke for so long I had moved past his driveway and I could no longer hear him properly.

So, I turned back to find out what he was saying.

It was becoming increasingly dark and he was a fair way down his driveway, but he shared with me that life was very hard for him at the moment.

I knew that I should give him ‘the time of day/night’, and listen to him, although the darkness was closing in.

I empathised with him that life could be pretty tough and sometimes we need to push through that difficult time.

Darkness was now thick, so I felt that it was alright to bring this conversation to a close. I wished him all the best.

I had not solved his problem, but I had given my time to listen to him. If I should meet him again, I would follow up our conversation.

So how do you cope when times are tough?

I have recently experienced a time of ill health.

No one wants to be put on the sidelines, especially when you enjoy what you normally do.

It’s no fun being unwell; you can become socially isolated and depressed.

You can lose hope that you will ever get better.

And sometimes our health does not get better.

In our time of feeling down, it is good to consider how the Psalmist in the Bible copes when things go wrong.

He calls out to God and complains about what is happening to him. But then, as he recounts God’s loving nature and wonderful ways of the past, his spirit is lifted, and he ends up praising his Lord God.

We are helped by knowing how the Psalmist coped with hard times.

In all times, we can trust that our loving God is with us, and we can be reassured by the words of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, which are found in the closing verses of the Gospel of Matthew, “Lo, I am with you even until the end of the age.”

As we trust in God’s loving presence with us, our problems may not go away, but we will know that we are not alone; God is there with us.

Likewise, when we share our burden with someone else, our burden can feel lighter.

And I hope that we will listen to another tell of their hard times so that their burden can be somewhat lighter also.

Michele Lees

Echuca Moama Uniting Church