Saturday, March 17, 2018

Misery loves company

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 MSG)
We probably all have heard that old English proverb, "Misery loves company", but does it really 'love it'? Back some time ago, I came across some research attempting to see if people who spend a good deal of time together actually influence the 'moods' of the other individual. They attempted to see if one depressed individual in the relationship did more to bring down the other individual, or if the opposite would be true and the other brought the depressed one up. It was a good study showing that only the severely depressed individual actually pulled the mood of the other downward. Normal emotional mood swings didn't play as much role in 'pulling the other guy down'. They were part of life and they were momentary mood swings that could easily be changed in the company of another. 
The study stopped short of actually proving the positive mood of one party in the relationship being able to actually impact the negative mood of the other - it just showed that we aren't always negatively impacted by the mood of another. I think we have all felt it from time to time though. We are feeling low and kind of dragging along through life somehow and one of our close friends comes alongside with a much more positive disposition in that moment and what happens? Most of the time, OUR mood begins to change, ever so slightly. I believe even a little while in the right company makes all the difference!
The 'God of all healing counsel' is just dying to display his goodness in our lives. He isn't about to abandon us to our worries and cares. In fact, he helps to actually 'strategically' bring others into our lives that will act as the counter-balance to our current emotional need. Alongside us, they find a way to help us heal, create a new enthusiasm for what lies ahead, or even just be a shoulder to lean on when we think we might want to abandon it all. God's healing counsel isn't always found by us getting into the Word of God, or in spending long moments of prayer sharing our miseries with him. Sometimes his healing counsel comes in us recognizing a need similar to our own in the life of another and then finding some way to be an encouragement to that other individual, even though we might have a need of our own. Somehow, in that moment of being what the other guy needs, we find healing for our own need!
While God will always remain our primary source for emotional strength and 'balance' in our lives, he does use others to help us walk out this daily struggle called 'life'. We don't have to go it alone and this is likely surprising news to some. I have met individuals who think they cannot ever ask for help, or ever be who they really are around others because they figure they have to shoulder life's burdens all on their own. Nothing could be further from God's plans for our lives for we are created to 'partner with each other' in this walk. Yes, it may be true that misery loves company - attracting 'birds of the feather' into the middle of your own muddle - but if we truly want to overcome our misery, we want to find ways to 'look outside' our misery and recognize the misery of another. Just sayin!