Jim and Ron had been the best of friends. They grew up together in Mayfair section of the city. And even though they didn’t go to the same high school, they still remained in contact with each other through those years, through their marriages, Ron’s divorce, and Jim’s illnesses, and many other experiences. They spoke regularly to each other. Now they were both of retirement age and were able to get together more frequently.
One morning they were walking on the Ocean City boardwalk, and Ron said, “Jim, I’ve always been meaning to ask you something. Whenever I ask you how you’re doing, or hear someone else ask you that question, you always say, ‘I’m living the dream’. Even when you have been going through some hard times, you still manage to say—-I’m living the dream. Me, I’m always giving people all the gory details of all my problems. How come you stay so positive all the time?
And Jim said, “you know I’m no fool. I have had my share of difficulties. In fact, this round of chemo I’m going through now, has been pretty rough. But I always say to myself, ‘What good does it do for me to be miserable to those around me? And why should I waste my time worrying about everything, and getting myself more sick then I already am. There are things that I have no control over, and when I find life getting the better of me, I say, ‘Lord Jesus, I trust in you’.
Here’s something I do that really helps. I read the Bible every day. A priest suggested that to me many years ago, and I have been doing it ever since. I just take one chapter or section of one of the books of the Bible, usually from the New Testament, and when I come upon a line that jumps out at me, I put the book down and stay quiet focusing on that line and what it is that Christ is trying to tell me. The way I see it now, those things that jump out at me are the things that Jesus wants me to focus on. It’s one of the ways that God communicates with us, I think.
There’s this really great line from the Letter to the Hebrews that goes like this:
The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me!
The first time I read that, I remember, I was having a pretty lousy day, and I thought, wow! I really needed to hear that! And I felt myself calming down. So, ever since that, I say that verse to myself quietly whenever I feel myself getting all worked up, and I calm down. I can then cope with my probable self in a better way than I would if I just relied on myself.
And the more I think about it, I realize that God wants me to share some of this confidence with others. So I really try hard to be pleasant to those around me, and I try to spread a little joy rather than being Mr. Difficult all the time.
St. Paul writes that our faith should rest not on human wisdom, but on the power of God. And then in the Gospel Jesus asks us to be salt of the earth and light for the world. To be salt and light is to, in a sense, “add flavor to life”, to be a light that can make even a little bit of darkness go away. We can do this if we are truly convinced that Christ is with us, that we are not alone, that we will never be abandoned.
A few years ago there was a movie out with Tom Hanks called “Bridge of Spies”. In that film, the main character of the story says to the Russian prisoner he’s defending a couple of times in the course of the movie, “Do you ever worry?” And each time the Russian is asked that question, he replies, “Would it help?”
Do you ever worry? Would it help?
Would worrying help? Would being miserable all the time help? Would being resentful help? How about asking Jesus for help, and trusting that He will hear you? Maybe that is the more constructive route to go.