864) Helping Yourself by Helping Others

From Let Me Tell You a Story, by Tony Campolo, copyright 2000, page 91

     The story is told by M. Scott Peck, the famous psychologist and author, of a woman patient who was suffering from extreme depression.  One day, when she was due for an appointment with him, she called on the telephone and told him that her car had broken down.  Dr. Peck offered to pick her up on his way into work, but he explained to her that he had to make a hospital call before he got to the office.  If she was willing to wait in the car while he made the call, they could have their appointment.  She agreed.

     When they got to the hospital, he had another suggestion.  He gave her the names of two of his patients who were convalescing there, and told her that each of them would enjoy a visit from her.  When they met again, an hour and a half later, the woman was on an emotional high.  She told Dr. Peck that making the visits and trying to cheer up those patients had lifted her spirits, and that she was feeling absolutely wonderful.

     Dr. Peck responded by saying, “Well, now we know how to get you out of your depression.  Now we know the cure for your problem.”

     The woman answered, “You don’t expect me to do that every day, do you?”

     That’s the tragedy of our lives.  Doing what Jesus would do lifts us out of our doldrums into a higher quality of life.  And yet, we often think that imitating Jesus is something burdensome.  It’s not!  Doing what Jesus would do feeds us emotionally and lifts our spirits.  One experiences the flow of the Spirit in the context of serving others.

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II Corinthians 1:3-7  —  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Philippians 2:1-5 — If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus… 

Deuteronomy 32:46-47 — (Moses) said to them, “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law.  They are not just idle words for you– they are your life.  By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”

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This is another day, O Lord.  I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready for whatever it may be.  If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.  If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly.  If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently.  And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly.  Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus.  Amen.  —Book of Common Prayer

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