In the process of notifying and soliciting prayers for my current physical/financial situation, I have come across some things which are both a blessing and cause for concern. I have truly been blessed by the response of many people I have never met who are genuinely concerned and who have made varying degrees of commitments to pray. This is truly amazing to me since these are people who do not know me, know little about me yet love me enough to pray and believe.
Yet, on the other hand, those who I have known for years have (as usual) ignored my requests and have let it be known through their silence that they really don't care what becomes of me in this life. This is to me the saddest commentary on our faith that I could possibly think of. When brothers (both physical and spiritual) are so hung up on trivial problems in the past that there is no willingness to lay down the weapons of warfare long enough to pray for a pressing need--well it is just not right.
Christians are notorious for being both very loving and kind but also for being full of festering anger and long simmering bitterness. Over the years, I have seen Christian brothers devote themselves to the destruction of each other's ministries and even families. When and where this has happened, the resulting damage gives the enemy cause to boast and must bring huge tears to our loving God's eyes.
Why must brothers seek to destroy each other? Why must brothers feel the need to hurt, tear down and otherwise render useless their own flesh and blood? This of course goes back to Cain and Abel in the Garden of Eden and has carried on throughout the ages to the present. Whether thinking of Joseph and what his brothers did to him or David's sons; the inescapable fact remains that when speaking of brotherhood, it is a two-sided sword for sure.
I have one brother who is nearly 8 years older than I. To say our relationship is chilly is quite an understatement. There have been stretches over the years where we had no communication for nearly 10 years at a time. Distance and differing lifestyles left little in common. Despite our differences, we have never been enemies. The furthest thing from either of our minds would be to consciously try to hurt each other. Our hurt comes though lack of communication and corresponding fellowship.
My wife has one brother who is about 6 years younger than she. They talk about twice each year on birthdays or Christmas. There is never any other communication but they would each say that they are "close". One thing is for certain, if anyone tried to hurt my wife, her brother would be there in a heartbeat to protect her.
I have a good friend who has four brothers. They are only separated by about 7 years in age. They grew doing everything together, including taking drugs and other not so nice things. To this day they still call each other at least every week and sometimes every day. Their "brotherhood" is more a fellowship than anything else.
How is it that different families can have such a wide variety of definitions of brothers? Is the same thing true of sisters? I know my wife corresponds and speaks with her two sisters far more often than her brother. For many years I felt far closer to my sister who is 13 years older than me than to my brother. What is it with sisters that allows them to be and stay close? My mom was always far closer to her two sisters than to her one brother. I have known many families where this was the case.
Anyway, lest I drift off to an entirely different subject than where I started; I find it very fascinating that those who manifested the most compassion, concern and desire to help via prayer for my situation have been those who know me the least while those who know me best manifest little but apathy or lukewarm statements of superficial concern. This truly baffles and bothers me.
This weekend I sent urgent e-mails to the top ten people I felt needed to know the situation I am facing. I have heard back from two of those people. Last Thursday evening between my wife and I, we sent e-mails to about 25 people letting them know what was going on. About 20 responded within a day. How is it that those closest care the least while those more distant care far more?
I feel at times that it is easier for us to get behind someone we don't know or know well in a time of crisis than those closest to us. I understand emotions are involved which cloud the issue along with family/friendship history. But, wouldn't it make sense that those closest to us should be the ones leading the way as far as prayer and support? This whole thing leaves me with the unmistakable feeling that I would rather have ten friends whom I do not know than two who claim to know me better than a brother.
Who are your closest friends/brothers/sisters? If they let you know they were facing a crisis in their life would you run to help them or tell them you are too busy to help? When those who claim to be our closest allies are too busy to offer assistance in times of great need; I think it is time to find a new crew of friends. A true friend doesn't need to be told twice that their friend is in need. Hearing only once should produce the natural response of wanting to do whatever is needed to help.
I think families tend to feel an obligation to help when many times the heart to do so is not there. I think people we have known forever and THINK are our friends many times turn out to be anything but our friends if there is any degree of giving involved. If this past year has taught me anything, it is that many whom I once considered friends are merely acquaintances and many whom I never knew until recently are my best friends. Thank you, for I truly consider many of you some of my closest friends.
One thing I've learned this year is this is an extremely common occurrence. A longtime cancer survivor told me far too often the people you think would be there for you are not and people you think wouldn't be there are. In all fairness, some people are so hurt and shocked they don't know how to respond. So, they end up doing nothing. Contrary to what most people think, people facing life-threatening situations are eager to talk about what it going on. When our group from church goes to the Ronald McDonald House all you have to do almost is just say hello to a parent and the next thing you know they're pouring their heart out to you about their child. Hmmm...perhaps I should write a blog sometime about what you can do to help those who are critically/chronically ill.
Unfortunately, other times you don't hear from people simply because...they don't care. They want to live in a world which only focuses on themselves and nothing uncomfortable or ugly-looking can come in so if they can keep you out of sight, than you're out of mind. I dealt with it by reminding myself it's not my fault I got sick. I didn't do anything wrong and I have nothing to be ashamed of. I pray they never have to go through what I have gone through because they won't be able to sweep it under a rug or run away from it. I pray that if they do face this, I will be able to respond to them the way I wish they would have responded to me. Finally, I thank God for the new friends He has brought into my life. These friendships have become very strong for they were built on a foundation of people ministering to and loving me in the midst of my suffering rather than being concerned about what I could bring to the friendship. In other words, it is built on selflessness rather than selfishness.
I am sorry you are hurt by your friends lack of compassion. I do believe most of it is like Kreynolds says. Some just dont know what they should do about it.
be blessed - keeping you in my prayers
Gulp! Sniff! Wipe tears away... Oh B2Y I so understand what you are saying although I am short on family (blood ties). Having been diagnosed with the brain tumour, the last time my sister called to speak to me was about two weeks after the diagnosis when she said "oh you're alright, a woman at our church has a .. etc. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. She wanted me to phone her immediately after returning from seeing the specialist several hours away. When I pointed out that I would be very tired so would phone her the next day, the reply was "it's only a phone call". Other than calling a couple of very dear friends I told no-one because I wasn't prepared to receive the 'death sentence' in their eyes. Through ChristianBlog I found others not just prepared to stand in the gap, but prepared to stand with me against the onslaught of the enemy. Our strength is in our common belief that God has the power, is willing to use the power, and is waiting to use the power when we ask him to. There is no room for doubt and we can take turns holding up each others arms when they are tired. I truly praise and thank God that we have here brothers and sisters in Christ who, when asked to pray, do just that.
Reading some of these comments only serves to make me more adamant in my belief that the Christian community and earthly families share the same chords, both good and bad. "Alight's" comments about the role of his grandmother and mother were very revealing for I think this is what has happened in thousands, if not millions of familes.
As people have spread out and the independent spirit has flourished, families do not stay in touch like they did a few generations ago when they all lived within a few hours of each other. Somehow texting, e-mails and an occasional phone call are not the same as when the family used to gather on a regular basis to eat, talk, play and work. Those days have long gone and it is a shame.
As far as the topic of "fair weather friends", we all have had and have our share of such wonderful folk who mysteriously vanish when "needed" but miraculously appear when they need something.
All I know is that I cherish the relationships and genuine friendships God has allowed me build with so many of you here on this site. I hold fast to the irony that YOU, some of my dearest friends will never know my name (by my choice) or ever actually meet me.
To me this is almost humorous how God saw fit to bless me with such dear brothers and sisters and all I know is that they are "kiwibird", "literalword", "lilysvalley", "alight", "bubbavela" and "kreynolds" among others. God knows who we are and it brings a smile to my face to know that we do not need names etc. to support each other in prayer and manifest the love of Christ to each other. How cool is that?
Thanks one and all for your comments.
B2Y (or whoever I really am)
Dear brother, I have learned much in just the past few years. Late in life I learned just how important it is for us to be there for each other, whether it is a family member or a friend I've only talked to online. Just a few short years ago I was one of those who tended to avoid those with whom I had personal issues.
Thank God that He taught me that no matter what emotional issues have transpired between friends, family, or someone I've never met, He is the Father of all, and I should be a brother to all. I have learned much about agape love, and not boasting...it is from God.
My heart goes out to you because I know you are in the valley right now, brother. My prayers go up for you. If I could help in any other, more physical way, I would do so in a heartbeat.
May God bless you in a most profound way
Your brother in Christ
I can feel the pain of this blog, as I am seeing many others do to. Just 3 months ago, my daughter had a stalker. We think we know who it is (was) and he is a huge hulk of a man. He has had a crush on her since high school and has much knowledge in the high tech world. We felt our daughter's life was in danger, so we sat in her house (that had already been broken into) with a gun, a spotlight and a camera. We didn't have the money for video camera's and the police unfortunately told us in plain terms that they were too busy to help. They knew we had guns and said to use them if this guy broke in. So...
you can imagine the emotional turmoil we felt as Christians at the thought of using weapons. Also, we had little sleep as my husband, my daughter and I took turns keeping watch all night. On the 8th night, I was reduced to continually crying, my husband was incredibly tired and unable to think clearly and my daughter had serious stress trying to make sure her little girls were safe.
All this to say that we made a call to one of our dearest friends and asked for immediate prayer in our behalf. He called the pastor of our church after we requested the men on the church board to come and pray as this was an emergency situation.
Guess how many came that night. One. There were 6 on the Board and this a church we have attended faithfully, serving faithfully for over 30 years. One person came to pray. We were strengthened by this precious brother and his wife. But it made us think.
What has happened to us as the body of Christ? Do we not care anymore? I have examined my own life very carefully and found that I too am guilty as charged. There have been people on the prayer chain who I have known for years and although I prayed, I never called, never sent a card; always expecting someone else would.
I am sorry that this has happened to you. I would be so happy to bring you into my prayer life. I don't want you to feel alone. There are people who care and surprisingly it really is often-time those we don't even know.