It Can Always Be Worse

Saturday afternoon I was driving around on some errands. I wasn't far from our church so I decided stop in the adoration chapel for a few minutes. The chapel is a small room with eight chairs and a tiny altar. It's open 24/7 for people to pray or just have a few minutes of solitude with the Lord.

When you encounter others in this place, the etiquette is to offer a smile and then allow each other their own private time. If you must say something, you do it in a whisper. So as I opened the door I was surprised to hear two ladies conversing in normal tones. They stopped right away when I came in. My first thought was "how rude of them" to be using this place for their idle chitchat.

A minute later, one of the ladies started sobbing. The other put an arm around her and said something reassuring. The one who was crying said "I don't know what to do. I hope I'm not risking my life." Then more sobbing.

In that instant, shame swept over me for what I had thought. I did not know these people. I have no idea what she was talking about except that it sounded very serious, perhaps even life-threatening. My little problems that I had planned to pray about faded away as I listened to someone with real worries.

Then the crying woman started to whisper and I realized that she was worried about disturbing me. Again, I felt about as low as a cockroach. There are plenty of anxieties in my life, but my life itself isn't one of them. Yet this woman, facing some huge crisis, was being kind to me. It was the last thing I deserved from her at that moment. I offered a quick prayer for her protection, got up and left them alone again.

Lesson learned: however bad I think I have it, somebody else is suffering even more. That somebody is probably not far away. The real irony is that I still got what I wanted; when I left that room my worries were gone, replaced with gratitude. God answers prayers in the most unexpected ways.

No comments: