I believe it is safe to say that 2020 has been a demanding year for everyone — a year of many changes, challenges, disappointments, and for some also illnesses and losses. It is quite understandable that the events of the year have gotten many of us down. But throughout it all some of us have been privileged to know certain people who have remained strong, upbeat, steadfast, and even cheerful during all of the madness ... someone who gives everything within their power to help keep the rest of us buoyed up to avoid drowning in a sea of despair.
I think it is time that we should recognize these people in our lives, for in all this turmoil where would we be without them?
I don’t understand why it is, but ever since I was in high school people have come to me to tell me their problems. I suppose maybe I look like someone who could give sage advice, though it is only an unintentional façade. Be that as it may, my shoulder has been throughout the years one that many people, for one reason or another, have chosen to cry on. One of the things I have been both honored and troubled to hear lately is an observation made by some of my most upbeat acquaintances: that though they do everything in their power to help stay positive for everyone around them, no one seems to be there to help them. They too get discouraged at times because of everything going on around us, but there is rarely anyone standing by to help them through these down periods.
Perhaps because we always see them smiling and upbeat, we easily forget that these stalwart beacons of optimism nevertheless are people too, just like us. Yes, they seem to have tapped into a higher strength than we in order to maintain positive and uplifting attitudes throughout the storm of 2020, but they are not immune to its effects. They simply choose not to dwell on them outwardly. But the strength required to remain positive in light of so much negativity, and to carry that shining torch of optimism to others, can have a draining effect. This is something we all should recognize.
Even Jesus, in His humanity, had to take time to “recharge,” and we see Him on many occasions withdrawing from the crowds — sometimes in solitude but often with the companionship of His closest disciples — to renew the strength He needed to carry out His divine mission. We tend to forget this. Many times when we confess that Jesus is fully God we often forget that He also is fully man, and in His humanity he experienced the same trials, challenges, and disappointments as we. In light of that, should we be surprised to learn that our fellow travelers, despite the optimism they perpetually exhibit, would not be immune to occasional discouragement?
We are told in Galatians 6:2 that we are to bear one another’s burdens. None of us is expected to endure our trials alone. Our optimist friends are there to help us bear our hardships and have stood with us to help lift us out of despair. Let us not forget them, for they too have burdens to bear — both their own and what they take from us.
Maybe it’s time we look more outward and consider the hardships of others during these difficult times. We know that we are genuinely grateful for the encouragement others give to us; let us not be neglectful in showing them that appreciation from time to time. They have been there to encourage us. Shall we not be there to encourage them, especially as they are pulling “double duty,” bearing our burdens as well as theirs? Even encouragers need encouragement, so let us show appreciation for their efforts to uplift and inspire: encourage the encouragers.