All families experience weakness in some way or another. Any of these?
- Misunderstandings, indifference or coldness in your family relationships?
- Being taken for granted without appreciation, encouragement or thanks?
- Constantly rushing from one task to another without time to listen to each other?
- Continual cold war or sniping at one another to hurt or put down the other?
- No laughter, fun, sharing of dreams, family outings or celebrations?
- Lack of adequate shelter, food, clothing and the basic amenities of life?
- Unemployment, debts, unpaid bills, fear of eviction, forced labor, poor wages?
- Being taken advantage of by powerful, wealthy, unscrupulous employers?
- No time to share, enjoy being together with one’s family or adequate rest?
- Constant illnesses, medication, operations, care for the ailing and sick?
How do we tend to behave under stress and weakness?
- Do we grumble and complain ? Do we curse our bad luck? Do we take it out on or displace our anger on to those who are weaker than us?
- Do we turn to God in humble prayer and seek refuge in Him?
- Do we become aware of those who are worse off than us and count our blessings?
- Do we sympathise with the have-nots, because of our experience?
- Do we escape into work, illness, watching TV or the internet?
- Do we build up our adjustive resources, looking creatively for alternatives?
- Do we change our goals and work towards what is achievable right now?
- Do we escape into alcohol, drugs or compulsive T.V. watching?
- Do we seek wise counsel and guidance from competent people?
- Do we do what we can and pray for what we cannot?
We live in a world that offers us opportunities to get ahead at the expense of others. In competitive societies, the stronger, cleverer, wealthier, more powerful, more influential, use to their advantage, their strengths to win, while the weaker, lose the coveted prize. But they also tend to bring the same attitudes into their personal relationships at home. Wealth and comfort compensate for love and sharing. When each one is only concerned for getting ahead, one becomes callous and critical of those who can only survive if others care enough to be life-giving to them.
Some give charity to the needy, to appear as philanthropists. Their good works are broadcasted in newspapers, television or at public functions. So they receive their reward.
Recently, there were Special Olympics for intellectually challenged children. In the race, one child fell down and lay on the ground. The others, who were running ahead, turned around and saw their companion on the ground. They all returned and picked him up. Then joining hands, they all ran together to the finishing post. They received a standing ovation from the onlookers, who learned a valuable lesson from them.
Mother Teresa was asked to speak to the audience at Oslo, when she received the Nobel Prize. She told them of a starving Hindu family in Calcutta she visited with a parcel of rice. But instead of allowing the hungry children, to eat, the mother of the family thanked Mother and told her to leave. Mother stood outside their hut and she saw the lady taking the same parcel of rice and entering the hut of her neighbor. She came out after a while with only half the parcel. When Mother questioned her, she said: “Our Muslim neighbors are also starving and I gave them half the rice.” Mother Teresa then asked the renowned audience this question: “Do you know if your neighbors are starving? Perhaps not for rice, but for love”
Our weakness, whether it is being intellectually challenged or starving makes us sensitive to the need of others. All of us are weak in some way. But God is the source of our strength. We are his hands and voices to each other in our broken moments. So remember the words of Hannah: