Sunday, 28 September 2014

Burdens and Opportunities

Someone recently posted the thought that God gives you mountains so you learn how to climb, and he felt he was scaling Everest this week. I sent him a quick message of encouragement, but it got me thinking. Today is what we Latter-day Saints call Fast Sunday. Once a month we go without meals for 24 hours and donate what we would have spent on food to charity, to feed those who go hungry on a frequent basis. It not only helps others financially, but it helps us to focus on the inner spiritual self while subduing the outer physical self.

Each month, I find it helps me to fast if I am thinking about and praying for a specific person or a particular need. But this month there seems to be so many people around me needing special help. A friend with cancer. A baby about to be born in the family. Another baby due in the spring. Someone's uncomfortable financial situation. An acquaintance's recovery from a difficult surgery. Someone waiting for news from their doctor. Someone looking for work. Loneliness. Loss. Pain. Disappointment. And it seems like a feeble cop-out to fling a generally-worded prayer heavenward for "all those who need Thy blessings." After all, we all need blessings of one sort or another. Everyone has a particular sorrow or challenge, sometimes visible and sometimes hidden. It's part of the human condition. And it seems a bit presumptuous to tell God, "You decide who needs help the most this month." As if He doesn't know already.

One of my bosses dislikes the word "challenge." She substitutes the word "opportunity" for it, instead. She's right, of course; every obstacle and disappointment presents the opportunity to grow or learn, and that is, after all, what we're here for. Someone else's problem provides us with the opportunity to reach and stretch and help and increase in compassion. But positive spin or not, the fact is that life can be incredibly hard. We need each other's prayers and outstretched hands. Even if we know the plan and see the bigger picture, we still have to get the occasional boost from someone else to make it through the day. So I think this Fast Sunday, instead of telling God to do all the work, I'll ask instead to be shown where I can be of most help, and then I will commit to doing whatever I'm shown.

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