Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When are there exceptions to having Christ-Like love?

We hear it all the time in our culture "She's just lashing out because of ___ trial" or "He will help you later after he works ___ out" "I will help you when I pull myself together, I’m having a really rough time." Emotions tend to justify unwillingness to serve at times, and the truth is I’ve never really seen any problem with it whatsoever. We are all human, and we all need solitude and our own time to work things out. But, as I read Matthew 14 the thought came to me that although we might be experiencing "rough waters" is that an excuse to not pull someone up into a boat that is drowning? Some might say, that isn't a realistic example as refusing to help someone with small matters as we are experiencing severe emotional trials, because most of the time it isn't life or death options like the rough waters. But is there a limit, or are there certain boundaries, that Christ-like love only fits into?

Let's explore Matthew 14 for a brief moment. In this chapter we have 2 major miracles: The feeding of the 5,000 and Peter walking on water. Although these are remarkable and great points to focus on, (as pointed out in my New Testament class) we tend to skip over the first part of the chapter. 

John the Baptist is beheaded. Now first, you have to remember that John was sent to be the "forerunner" to Jesus. In other words, he would do certain things before Jesus and prepare his way (like birth, baptism, disciples, and death). Now let's think about this for a moment. Jesus does not only have a very close relationship with John because of their divine roles, they are also related. So in one sentence Jesus, in essence in v. 13, is told that a very close person to him has been killed but because John is his forerunner, Jesus's death is nigh at hand. Can you imagine if someone came to you and said, "Someone you love has been murdered, and you will be next very soon". The weight and magnitude of the situation would be highly unbearable.  

If we look at Jesus's human side for a moment, we can explain his reaction in v. 13 as He tries to be alone and went on a ship to go pray to His father at his destination. In v. 13 and 14 we see that as soon as a multitude saw Jesus leaving, they followed him and waited for His ship to arrive. Now think for a moment, as my teacher put it, if you were Jesus wouldn't you be strongly tempted to tell the people Look I’m having a really hard time right now, but I will come back when I feel better and help you! Yes, of course that would be tempting. Instead, Jesus heals all of them. And then He feeds all of them. He spends the entire day with these people right after his emotional trauma occurred, and never complained once. After the people departed, Jesus told His disciples to get on a ship without Him so He could go pray to His Father in the mountain. Jesus finally had his moment of desperate solitude. 

As I tell you this story and give a little more of a human perspective on it, I don't want you to think I am implying that it is not okay to mourn during a traumatic experience, because it is okay. Jesus did, and He turned to Heavenly Father for comfort and help. But, in the meantime Jesus also helped those in need and that surely did bring more joy into His life. I tell you this story because as we go through terrible things throughout our lives, we might be very tempted to wallow up and stop moving forward. I'm telling you today that you don't have to stop, rely on Jesus to carry you during these times that you feel too weak, and as you strive to lift others as well your strength will increase. I will conclude with a quote from Elder Cook's Talk, "Hope Ya Know, I Had A Hard Time" 

"I testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ covers all of the trials and hardships that any of us will encounter in this life. At times when we may feel to say, "Hope you know, I had a hard time," we can be assured that He is there and we are safe in His loving arms...When our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, was asked on his birthday this past August what would be the ideal gift that members worldwide could give him, he said without a moment's hesitation, "find someone who is having a hard time...and do something for them""

It is okay to mourn and to cry and to weep! We are human! But while we are going on this crazy journey we call life, with many trials, let us remember that my strengthening our brethren we will too be strengthened even more. I have heard it coined, "Service is the fastest working medicine... even faster than Advil!" 

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