The hurts of the heart
There are physical hurts in life—accidents, illness, financial misfortunes that men often manage to survive. But there are hurts of the heart that pull people down in deep discouragement, sometimes more damaging than physical factors—people who are misunderstood, maligned; whose motives are misjudged. There are those whose friends fail them; those whose loved ones prove faithless. There are those whose words and manner are misunderstood by those they live and work with, and there are those whose humor is misunderstood—a humor that was not meant to hurt. Sometimes we speak without thinking and find the effect to be altogether not what we would have wanted. And sometimes even with family and friends there are clashes of personality, or pride, or simply differences of approach that prevent even loved ones from understanding each other. Oh, how we wish sometimes we hadn’t said some things, and hadn’t done some things—that we hadn’t given thoughtless hurt to someone, or even some slight. As Sir Walter Scott said it: “Thoughts, from the tongue that slowly part, Glance quick as lightning through the heart.” 1
So many misunderstood—so many with problems, sorrows, disappointments, frustrations, hurts of the heart! We are not, any of us, always as we ought to be, or all we could become. We often live by trial and error, and there is no perfection in any one of us. And no matter what physical comforts we have, or what success in other ways, these will not make life happy when there are hurts of the heart. One of the greatest accomplishments in this world would be that of lifting human hearts. Blessed are they who are kind and considerate of the feelings of other people. Blessed are they who understand and appreciate and encourage others, and help to lift their lives and to heal hurts of the heart. Surely God will reward kindness more surely than he will reward much else without it.
Sir Walter Scott, Rokeby, Canto i, st. 19.
“What we don’t use wastes away”
From Hippocrates there is a sentence which says, “What we use flourishes. What we don’t use wastes away.” 1 One way of expressing gratitude would be to use well what we have—material things, talents, time, opportunities—sympathy, compassion. In many ways there is a steady process of perishability. Time goes no matter what we do with it—whether we use it well or waste it away. The products of the good earth are in some ways the same: Much is produced that is never used well. There is much that piles up unneeded in some places and doesn’t get to where it is most needed in others. There is much satisfaction in knowing that some things are ours, but there is a difference between having and using, and hoarding. Letting things pile up and deteriorate, unused, where they occupy space and collect dust, serving no good purpose and doing little good to anyone, is a sterile waste. On another side of this subject: If a person receives a gift from someone who gives sincerely, and acts as if he doesn’t need or want it, or just lets it lie idle and doesn’t use it, it is a disappointment to the giver and appears to be an evidence of ingratitude. Both use and appreciation are elements of gratitude, and sincere gratitude includes using well what God has given, for our own benefit and blessing, and for others also—remembering that material things are perishable, that talents will shrivel and waste away unless we use them well, and that the time to do what needs to be done is when it needs to be done—for time is the essence of all our opportunities. It is precious, perishable, irreplaceable, and it won’t wait. This is the day this day’s work should be done. “What we use flourishes. What we don’t use wastes away.”
Hippocrates, Greek physician (460–377 B.C.).