He warns us that sometimes people will ask us how we are without really wanting to know the answer, reminding us to only ask a question if we are willing to hear the response.
He relates how honest David, of the Bible, was towards God, when writing many of the Psalms.
He also points out that it’s only when we are honest with our brothers and sisters in Christ that they can help us. Andy B does make a point of stating that you shouldn’t open up about your life’s problems with just anybody; you need to use wisdom. In addition to all of this he tells of an
So, here we are for another GoDeeper with Andy B, and Honestly, I'm Fine!
And depending on how we say that, "honestly, I'm fine" well, okay, yeah that' a bit obvious, but "honestly, I'm fine", maybe we could spot that. But actually, we can all be very good, especially as Christians who've been in church for a while, of that Sunday smile. "Yeah, I'm fine. God is good". And actually, it's not true. We don't mean that at all. We mean, life is horrible. We don't mean life is fine.
Part of the reason why church family is important, having people in our lives is important, is so that they can help us in our walk, to edify us. So that people walk alongside is. We walk alongside people. And part of that is the importance of honesty. It's the importance of "Do you know what, I'm not fine!".
I've been in too many churches where people ask the question, "How are you?" and they don't care about your answer. "How are you doing, Andy?" And I have been honest, "I'm having a really bad morning. I'm feeling really, really ill today." "Oh, that's brilliant. Yes, Praise God," and off they go. You know what? Asking that question caused so much damage to my heart, because I wasn't fine, and I was actually honest. And we can lie and then we need to go God and repent of that lie, when people say how are you, and we're not honest. Because there are ways of being honest. And there are ways of being honest.
One of the importances I think we need to consider, is David in the Psalms, was so honest about who he was, how he felt towards God. The Psalms are a wonderful collection of amazing writings from David. But most of the Psalms start with 'God you've abandoned me', 'God I hate you', 'God, you, you fail me,' 'God you've let me down.' The Psalms, we kind of skip past that to the nice parts. But a lot of the Psalms is David saying life is horrible, life really isn't going as it should do, as I want it to as I feel it should do, as you said he would go. But as you work through each Psalm, what we see, is that relationship of David going from God you failed, and it comes. God, I love you. Because as we're honest with God, it helps us. And as we're honest with our Christian brothers and sisters, our Christian uncles and aunts if you will, actually, they can help us, because we're not alone. We're not unique in that sense. We all go through difficult struggles.
Let me just read this out from Psalm 32, verse 4.
"For day and night, your hand was heavy upon me, my strength was sapped, as in the heat of summer"
If you've ever experienced a heatwave, it doesn't really matter what temperature you're used to. But if the temperature you're used to suddenly increases, it slows everything down. We just can't get done as much as we would think we could. Because we get used to things. And quite often when people say how are you? We should be answering them honestly. Otherwise we're actually lying to them. And lying isn't good for them. And it's not good for us. And it's not God's good for God's kingdom. So, we need to be honest.
And if if you're listening to this and thinking, well, I feel like this summer heat has sapped my energy, say that to somebody. It may be the person that asked you isn't somebody you should wisely, say anything to. We need to apply wisdom. And it doesn't mean to say we tell everybody, everything.
I've mentioned this before, I know. But, many years ago, I was on some't called the PAIS Project, which was a year out for me. It was a fantastic project. Really enjoyed that time! But my, part of my role was to work for a particular church at the weekends, and then PAIS Project was my work during the week. And I was really blessed because my home church for that year, where I'd been provided with a family to put me up for the year, with a bed and food, the Minister of that church was amazing. Both were. There was two ministers. They were both great. And, actually, they were also letting us use the room as an office, the building and the church. So we got loads of time with these guys. And they were great.
And this older Minister once was talking to me about my phone bill. Now, I just had a mobile phone. I was 18. This is 1995. Mobile phones were still very, very new. Very few people had them. I used one because it was cheaper than phone boxes, so I could call Jo. He said, 'Oh, show me your phone bill Andy." And it wasn't a challenge. He wasn't being rude. He wasn't being horrible. He was just genuinely interested. And what I recall of that conversation, which has stuck with me, is he was a man that I could trust. I still do, he has great advice, a great preacher. But he challenged me to be honest about something, with somebody that I should be free to be honest, about.
Why do I need to hide my phone bill? I didn't. But I suddenly got all funny, and evasive, and I was quite immature. But actually, I shouldn't have needed to hide that because that was some't to be honest about. That was someone to be honest with.
If you feel like your life is been sapped by the summer heat, and somebody says to you want to you a Sunday morning "How you doing?" Be honest, wisely! And if you're talking to somebody and you think I really don't feel safe to say this to you, then find somebody who can.
I've met plenty of people who go to church, they arrive late, and leave early, so that nobody talks to them, because they're just about hanging on to life. And, if somebody starts pressing them for an answer, they're gonna break down, and they haven't got the capacity for that. Maybe they've got a situation at home. They've just got to deal with it.
We need to be careful that we don't ask too many people too many questions. But we also need to be honest with people that we can be honest with.
Psalm 39 verses 1 and 2says this.
"I said I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin. I will put a muzzle on my mouth, as long as the wicked are in my presence. But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased."
If we're not honest with people, that anxiety, that anguish, that stress, that stuff that can prevent us from feeling like we can take our next breath, will grow. One of the things we've taught our boys, to great effect, is to talk about something, however much it feels like he's got a hold on them, however much of a struggle it is, talk about it. Talk about it with us, or anybody, but but we love you! Talk to us. And they do frequently. And they always have done. We've always had this, I've said this many times and it'll bear repeating again. We have a very much, a rule in the house. If you want to talk about something, there's no subject off the table. So, we've had all sorts of things talked about from interesting things, to some really challenging conversations. But the one thing that has been wonderful to watch is when one of the boys or Jo, or I, say some't to the rest of the family, or each other, and say, 'I'm really struggling with this, even as I think to say it, I sound stupid in my head. But I need to get these words out.' And as they speak these words, you can see the liberation, the freedom, as they've spoken that problem to somebody else. Because, now, that problem isn't something that they've got to carry on their own. Now they can let somebody else help them. And again, we need to be wise with whom we speak.
Let's just jump over to Mark 14. Now, this is a passage about the Lord's Supper. And there's an interesting piece towards the end about the Garden of Gethsemane. And what we see here is Jesus struggling. He went off to pray. The disciples, He knew, they weren't always going to be there for him because they would fall asleep. He was God so He could keep going a little bit longer. But He asked his disciples to help Him. And they failed him.
'Please, will you pray for me?' I'm badly paraphrasing this! 'Please. I'm gonna go and pray, please pray for me.' This is verse 35, ish. And He comes back from His prayer, this emotional time with His Father God, and what are His disciples doing? Well, they're not standing up praying. They're snoring, 'cos they're sleeping. Sometimes it can feel like we don't feel safe to talk to others about our problems, because will they really, really care?Now, the disciples were tired. They fell asleep. That happens. But we need to be careful that we're asking people how they are, and also that we have the ability to listen to that question.
One of the things I've really enjoyed, when I was in full time ministry, was the opportunity not just to ask people, or talk to people, or talk at people, or preach, or whatever, it was being able to hear the answer to a question of 'how are you?'
I remember, one time, I'd missed an older couple at church. They were a lovely, dear couple. And I'd missed them at church one morning, and I rang them up, "how are you?".
And there was a moment where I could tell that the wife was not wanting to be honest. Not 'cos she wanted to deceive me, but she didn't want to burden me. And she said, 'I'm really not doing very well. My husband is really, really ill. We're really worried about his health'. And this is an elderly couple in the church.
So, I got in the car. I drove straight over to them. I spent an hour with them. I had a cup of tea. We had a chat. I prayed for them, and it really helped them. Now that wasn't some amazing thing I did. I just responded to a need. And I had the capacity to do that. And that capacity is important. Let's let's keep those times free.
I remember speaking to a minister one day. He was so frantically overworked. I said do you not think you should slow down a bit, before you burn yourself out? 'Well I know what I need to do. What I need to do is leave one hour everyday, clear, not plan anything, because that's really the best, wise, advice.' 'Why don't you do that?' 'Oh, I'm too busy for that, I'm too important.' That's a man that is putting his ministry above his health. And that's not what God wants us to do, either. He's not creating the capacity to meet the needs of the people he serves.
Would Jesus ever have said, "I'm fine." there's a question to ponder. He's come back from praying. This is Matthew 14 again, sort of verse 30 to 40. He's come back from praying, and His disciples are sleeping. Well, we don't really get much of a conversation about how Jesus felt about them sleeping, that's not really drawn out. But on a Sunday morning, if you met with Jesus, and you asked Him, do you think He'd say, "Yeah, I'm fine". 'Cos it's a non answer.
I'm fine means we need to know where they've been at, in order for them to be fine. And it's the same way if we say it, we need the other person to understand where we've been, what's our highs and our lows, in order for us to be fine somewhere in the middle.
I'm from the Black Country and one of the things you might say, "How you doing?". "Are, middlin? Fair to middlin?" Well, there's nothing really good happening. And there's nothing really bad happening, I'm just sort of in the middle. But if we don't know the highs and the lows, how do we know where the middle is? How do we know what fine represents? So we need to be honest.
So, as we think about, Honestly, I'm Fine, if we're honestly lying, then we need to go to God and repent of that, because that is a sin. It's gonna put distance between us and God. But I'd also put a little caveat in there. We need to be careful who we speak to. Some people it would not be wise to share information with, for a 100 different reasons. And there are those that we can. So seek out people you can trust. Seek out people that you can be honest with. And, if you've ever asked someone 'how are you doing?', don't ask that question, ever, unless you're prepared for the response that comes from that.
The most hurtful thing, as I said at the start, was somebody saying "How you doing Andy?". "I'm really terrible.". "Oh, brilliant. Off you go then". And, let me just add in, my daughter had just died when they said that. That's why I was not doing fine. It utterly devastated me. Don't ask people if you've not got time for them. It's more rude. Be honest and ask what you're willing to receive back as a response. If you're going to say how are you doing? Be ready for that person to say 'I had a miscarriage last night.' 'I lost my daughter this morning.'
We need to be honest, we need to help each other. We need to exercise wisdom. But as we go through the Psalms, we're reminded from David that it's okay not to be good at the start. But, as we process that pain with other Christians, with other believers, with Christ, we move from 'God, you've failed me' to 'God, I love you because you care for me.'
Let's pray. Father God, I thank you for the psalms for the model that David writes for us, where we can see bad things happening. But it turns to good when we come to you honestly. Lord, You've set us as people who need other people. Lord, would You take our hearts? Would you take our failings, our difficulties, our insecurities and our nervousness? Would you help us to be honest, when somebody asks us how are you doing today? And would you help us, even more so, only to ask the question to somebody else if we're willing for the response. Lord would help us to be a people who build up others, who equip others, resource others help others remove those burdens, they don't need to have. Help us to be honest with one another, vulnerable, wisely, with other Christians so that we can all help each other become more like you. Amen
Written by The BerryBunch