I have to say I don’t understand some people’s attraction to scary movies. You pay good money to have your heart rate climb, your palms sweat and your throat produce the most unflattering squeaks and squeals. Even though you know it’s only a movie, you’re still scared. I guess I don’t like feeling scared whether it’s real or not.
Being scared is just the anticipation that something bad is going to happen. People typically go to great lengths to avoid feeling scared. They walk on side walks, lock their doors and park under street lights. All to avoid even the anticipation that something bad might happen.
The problem is that sometimes you can feel scared to be around people you love. Your friend has cancer so you call them less. Your Aunt looses her husband so you give her “space to grieve”. Your neighbor lost their job so you don’t invite them to a cookout because they’re “going through a hard time”. We’ve all done these things. In your head, you know that people with difficulties need more contact with friends and family, not less. But each time you think of reaching out to them, you get that uncomfortable scary feeling.
Are you afraid the cancer, grief or financial problems are contagious? Maybe. More likely, facing another person’s suffering makes you face some things you typically get to avoid. Questions start to come into your mind like:
“If it can happen to them, can it happen to me?”
“What can I do?”
“Do people expect me to do something?”
“Does God expect me to do something?”
These ar scary questions. Avoiding suffering so you don’t feel scared seems natural. But God has other ideas. Hebrews 13:3 tells us you should remember those that are struggling “as if you yourselves were suffering.” But who wants to do that? Who wants to remember people that are sick, grieving or unemployed as though you are suffering too? After all, can you feel, I mean really feel , the suffering of another person as though you yourself are suffering and do nothing? Probably not.
Maybe this is why it’s scary to be with people who are suffering. Maybe we’re not scared their suffering is contagious. Maybe it’s a fear the Holy Spirit will inspire us to get involved. What if the Holy Spirit urges you to sit with them in their sadness, or listen to their pain? What if the Holy Spirit urges you to open your home, your wallet, or your busy schedule to make a difference in someone’s suffering? To honestly respond to suffering requires sacrifice. Yuck. No wonder being around suffering is scary.
But God has a plan for you. He wants you to feel another person’s suffering so deeply you can’t help but act. And by acting, be blessed. But first you have to let yourself connect with someone’s suffering. Fear not. God is with you. Remember, your fear can’t be anything compared to their fear. Just like scary movies, sometimes we feel scared whether it’s real or not. Overcome your fears and bless someone in need. It might change their life but it will most certainly change yours.