I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
One of the most enjoyable experiences of my European adventure was the opportunity to meet regular people just like me. On evenings when we were not too exhausted, my fellow travelers and I would venture out in the little “neighborhood.” One evening we decided to try the small Italian restaurant on the same street as our hotel. It was a quaint little place with little bistro tables and chairs along the sidewalk. A tall man with a white apron and bow tie invited us to sit. The table was in the open window and looked out on the street. We placed our drink orders and studied the menu. After we placed our orders, we discussed our day. As we chatted, I noticed a young man smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk. He paced up and down, glancing at us.
I admit we all became a little apprehensive. The young man crushed the cigarette and sat down at a table outside the window. Leaning in, he addressed us with a thick accented, “Hello.” We returned the greeting and engaged in conversation.
He was from Brittany but had lived in Paris for many years. He gestured down the street. “I live there.” He struggled with English, but overall we had no trouble understanding and conversing with him. He said many times that he hoped to revisit America. He had been twice and enthusiastically told us how much he loved it. As the conversation continued, he painted a different story of Paris than I had formed. I asked him why he would want to leave Paris? Every day he woke up in the most beautiful city in the world. He looked down at the table and ran his finger on the edge. “I wake up in Paris every day with uncertainty. I do not have a job, and I may have to move back to my parents. I am only out tonight because my friends are treating me to dinner.”
Our food came, and the young man excused himself. That evening as I said my prayers, I remembered that man to God.
The next morning we rose early. We had a full day and a long bus ride ahead of us. It was still dark when we arrived at the tour bus agency. It was chilly, and I hugged my sweater to my body. As we waited for the bus to arrive, I glanced down the row of businesses. At first, I thought it was an old blanket discarded, but as I looked closer, I realized it was a person asleep in a doorway. This realization left me a bit disappointed. I had in my mind a different Paris. A city of romance, culture, and history.
Often we think that our difficulties and suffering are unique. However, hardship, misery, and despair are universal. Meeting this young man reminded me that everywhere there are people just like you and me. It does not matter how many museums, cathedrals, castles, or stone buildings there are in a city; there are still people that are hurting.
I am sorry to say that I tend to focus on my troubles, causing me to forget that others are dealing with their issues. By focusing on our problems, we look inward rather than to Jesus. We also miss the opportunity to share His love by reaching out to those in need.
As you face tribulations and trials in your life, remember that you are not alone. Jesus is with you, guiding you and helping you to face them. Remember also that you are not the only one that is dealing with financial, marital, employment or health issues. Never pass up an opportunity to help others in their time of need. If you are helping others, you will not be focused on your problems which can produce anxiety and depression. Be there for others and allow them to minister to you.
Typist for Jesus