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A Lesson in Tolerance
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Recently, I went through a rather trying illness that included severe pain, fatigue, and nausea. It wasn't life-threatening, but it did require quite a bit of endurance. While dealing with it, I found myself increasingly unmotivated to do anything and intolerant of even the smallest annoyances.

For example, after several days of being sick, I woke up hearing a sound coming from the bedroom window. Immediately, I asked myself, “What's that noise?” I listened again and grumbled aloud through clenched teeth, “What is that noise?” Well, I'm ashamed to say that after listening one more time, I realized that the “noise” that was annoying me was actually the music of a songbird greeting the new day! Can you imagine? How could I have received that beautiful song in such a distorted way?

Obviously, I realized that pain or no pain, it was time to adjust my attitude. For one thing, negativity only makes pain worse. But more important, I needed to be more sensitive to the pain of other people and how it affects their daily interactions and productivity.

Pain and Fatigue

Being someone who has enjoyed good health and energy for most of my life, I probably haven't given enough thought to those who deal with chronic pain or fatigue and what that really means. It's so easy to judge someone's lack of motivation as laziness or apathy when that person may actually be doing the very best she can. How quickly we expect others to live up to our standard of cheerfulness when they are masking pain that we are not even aware of.

The point is, we don't know. We don't know the burdens that people carry. Whether they are physical, mental, or spiritual burdens, we just don't know. One person's starting point is another person's finish line. One person's estimation of “giving one's all” may be measured entirely differently by another. In fact, if we knew everyone's burdens, we might find that the very ones who we may at times judge as being minimal in their productivity, whether it be in the church or elsewhere, may actually have already given their all. And that is why God alone is the judge.

Jesus said, “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged: and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:2). What a good arrangement. We do well if we follow it.

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By Gwen Scott Simmons. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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