Can you lend a hand–or are you just too freaking exhausted to think about it?
Lend a hand. The river is rising, the dam is about to burst and there is no excuse. Toothless women, one-armed men, the youngest of children and immigrants coming across the border all have to lend a hand if everyone is going to make it.
I think Jesus would like this song. He was a lend a hand kind of guy. That’s one of the problems folks had with him. Remember that a lot of people were expecting a conquering-hero kind of messiah. Not a servant king. They expected someone who would come and rule with an iron fist, not a gentle servant whose hands
reached out to the broken and made them whole
touched blind eyes and made the darkness go away
touched diseased skin and made it clean
grabbed Peter and kept him from sinking in the storm
broke a loaf of bread and turned it into food for five thousand
turned over the tables of the money lenders at the temple
were, ultimately, pierced with nails when he was crucified.
And if we are to be followers of Christ, then we, too, must lend a hand.
The dam is cracking all around us, and everyone has to lend a hand
There are children who are hungry–lend a hand
There are elderly who have been forgotten–lend a hand
There are people of color incarcerated at an alarming rate–lend a hand
There are women feeling unheard and powerless–lend a hand
There are people who don’t know how they will make their rent–lend a hand
There are people who are homeless and hurting and in need of healing–lend a hand
Rights are being trampled–lend a hand
People aren’t voting–lend a hand
Children are being separated from their parents–lend a hand
Jeez Louise are you serious? Jesus Christ, are we really supposed to do all of this?
We’ve got homework and heartaches
We’re raising children and taking care of elderly parents
We’ve got pains where we’ve never had them before
We’re overworked and underappreciated
Overwrought and underpaid
We need for someone to lend us a hand, not the other way around
And besides that, it never ends.
Even if we keep the dam from breaking today, it could start to crack again tomorrow.
If we feed someone today, there will just be another hungry person tomorrow
If we clear out an alley this weekend, there will be another one grown over in a few weeks
If we get justice for one young black man, there are still thousands more to be served.
If we help a friend meet her goal to raise money to cure Chrones disease, she still has to live with the chronic condition day in and day out, and we’ll just have to raise more money next year.
Just thinking about the enormity of all the good that needs to be done in this world can wear a body out.
Compassion fatigue is a condition that was first diagnosed in nurses in the 1950s who worked daily with victims of trauma. It is a gradual lessening of compassion over time due to constant exposure to other people’s pain. It is a condition that all of us who seek to be the hands of Jesus Christ can fall victim to. Paul knew it way back in the day. He tells the Galatians to not grow fatigued or weary of doing good. Keep at it. It will pay off.
The Christian life is not sprint.
It is a marathon. There will be times when we hit the wall and think we can’t go on. How do we pace ourselves? How do we keep going when it seems that none of our efforts are making a difference? How do we radically follow Jesus Christ and not fall victim to compassion fatigue.
Make sure there’s no dust on your Bible and don’t neglect your prayer life. Our strength and perseverance comes from something beyond ourselves, and a study of scripture and a life of prayer keep us from falling in to the trap of believing it’s all on our shoulders.
You for those of you who may be suffering from compassion fatigue. Take heart! It is far better to be fatigued from too much caring than to be apathetic and just not care at all. Some of you may be hitting the wall right now. Don’t give up. Figure out what you need to do to keep going. Perhaps you need a rest. Perhaps you need to dust off your Bible. Perhaps you need something or someone to remind you that you’re not in it alone.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. –Galatians 6:9
We all have to lend a hand if everyone is going to make it– Jakob Dylan
Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.