I am often amazed at the number of trials and tribulations people face on a daily basis. While it appears some live charmed lives, I have come to believe that every one of us is dealing with a burden of some sort; many are dealing with health issues, others financial woes and some are struggling with getting their adult children to act like, well, adults. Believing some are blessed with supernatural protection from life’s struggles is probably faulty thinking. A better explanation is some are just better at dealing with adversity.
One of the best ways individuals can handle the curve balls life throws us is to practice the art of meeting the legitimate needs of others. In his book, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, recounts how many Navy SEAL candidates who make it through their grueling Hell Week training (five and a half days of inhumane physical exhaustion, hypothermia, mental stress, sand chafing, blisters, and food and sleep deprivation) are not necessarily the ones with the biggest muscles; instead, they tend to be the ones with the biggest hearts. In many classes 75% of the sailors who begin SEAL training don’t make it through Hell Week, but those who do often are the ones who put aside their own pain and fear and look for opportunities to help a buddy who is struggling.
There is something paradoxical about human suffering; those who try to alleviate it in others are oftentimes better able to endure it themselves. In Luke 17:33, Jesus tells us: “Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”
Knowing that all of us are going to face life’s struggles, and that helping others get through their adversity equips us to get through our own, doesn’t it seem rational that we should make a practice of looking for ways to lighten each other’s loads?