When ‘Theirs’ Becomes ‘Mine’

Yesterday there was a car crash just round the corner from us. We heard the emergency vehicles arriving. The road was closed for several hours. There were long queues of traffic; we observed their problem from our window.  

Needing to go to the shop I joined the traffic… big articulated lorries negotiating parked cars on both sides of narrow roads… traffic jammed on side-streets as people took ‘short cuts’. Their problem became my problem.

Yesterday’s word was ‘robust’: There’s ‘robust resistance’ in Ukraine… Rishi Sunak is ‘dealing robustly’ with our national finances….

Local police on four ‘criminally active teenagers’: ‘…our intervention with these four has led to them being dealt with robustly…

Elsewhere: ‘Motorists who fail to stop for school crossing patrols have been warned that they will be ‘dealt with robustly’

Often I like the idea of being strong, courageous, robust. It’s good for someone else, but I lack the motivation, the strength, the will. Their ‘robust’ isn’t my ‘robust’.

Yesterday I read Megan Cornwell’s article: ‘Burnout: Has the pandemic pushed pastors to the point of no return?’  She quotes others:

  • ‘…the Covid crisis turned leaders into shock absorbers for “the trauma of the flock”’…
  • ‘…I feel I have less emotional reserves to deal with conflict and distress in other people.’

Megan wrote well – objectively. I know people with similar mental, emotional, spiritual ill-health. I understand feelings of anxiety, fragility, isolation and discouragement. Having the compassion and empathy to identify their problems as my problems is another matter.

This morning I read the old story of David’s kindness to Mephibosheth, the crippled, forgotten son of his friend Jonathan. David could have ignored Mephibosheth and his family. Instead Mephibosheth’s needs and problems became David’s.

Musing on Jesus: ‘When he saw the crowds he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.’ Their problems became his problems.

As a follower of Jesus it’s a lesson I’m still seeking to learn… ‘Theirs becomes mine’.

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