I've never asked, but I think she is about ten to fifteen years older than I am. I learned the names of her children and grandchildren and her husband, who only in recent years has attended a few times with her. For awhile, she brought her four year old granddaughter to church. It was easy to see that the little girl had never been to church or ever had to sit still.
My friend loved her granddaughter very much, but it was obvious she needed help with such an overactive little angel. Between the two of us, we managed to keep her contained in one area and relatively still, but one time she managed to twist away from us, fell off the pew and landed with her feet straight up in the air.
This past year has not been an easy one for my friend. Her husband is in poor health. Her son is separated from his wife and they are in a bitter custody battle. Now my friend is no longer able to bring her granddaughter to church. Another's son's wife has been ill for months and is unable to care for herself. Although my friend has never complained or talked about her own health, I can see she doesn't feel well and is weary to the bone.
Last Sunday at the end of our Sunday school lesson, the teacher announced that next week's lesson would be based on Galatians 6:2 — sharing our burdens. As I sat there and looked around the auditorium, I couldn't help but wonder how we can bear each others burdens if we don't know what those burdens are.
Just over a week ago, a tornado ripped through a nearby community. It did a lot of damage. Houses and barns were destroyed and precious belongings were scattered along the roadside. It's easy to see that the people who lived in that area need help. Their problems are as visible as the damage from the storm.
But what about the lady I sit beside at church? She never stays after church for dinners or takes part in any church sponsored event. She can't. She has a sick husband who needs her care. She has farm work waiting for her when she gets home. She's a shy, quiet lady who wouldn't dream of speaking out during Sunday school and she's much too proud to ask for anyone's help.
So how do we reach out to people whose wounds are not visible? There is only one way that I know: instead of waiting for them to come to us, we have to go to them. We have to seek them out and spend time with them. Yes, I know, in today's hurry-up world, taking time like this isn't easy.
Look around you. Think about your brothers and sisters at church, your friends and neighbors, and your relatives. Is there someone you suspect is troubled, but you haven't taken the time to find out? Maybe you should. Is there someone you know who has lost a loved one, but you haven't let them know how much you care? Can you send them a handwritten personal note?
Share each other's troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2 NLT)