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Tough times need real friends


By J. Hogan

There are lots of people hurting today. War in Ukraine, inflation through the roof, troubles stacking up on family finances. Lots of trouble and few answers it seems.

Here in Stowe, where my office is and I sit typing, the last two days of school before Spring Break involved fights, lockdowns, an injured teacher and a 15-year-old shot off property, after hours.

A business down the street threw in the towel after a few months of trying to make a go of it, and a church planter I know is tossing in his, too, having been hurt by the folks who were supposed to be investing in him. I think he’ll stay strong in faith, but I don’t know if he’ll venture into ministry again. He’s disenchanted and disillusioned.

My friend Kevin’s big old boat of a Lincoln is costing him $100 every couple of days, so he’s looking for a small car and supply chain issues have all the car lots bereft of inventory. It’s to the point where he’s limiting his daily travels to serve in ministry as a volunteer - where he finds fulfillment in his retirement years.

I could go on, but I’m not going to. If you want bad news, you can turn on the tube any time.

I pointed out these things only to diagnose pain and disgust with life as more rampant than it’s been in a while. We diagnose things not just to note them, but to do something about it.

There’s a good fight to fight and you’re being asked to enlist. You can be an encourager, a “builder-upper” as my friend’s young son used to say. Often a person battered by life needs you to lift some of the burden for them.

You may be in a position to do this materially. Helping with finances, food or transportation, etc. If you are in that position, yeah, do it.

Even if you’re not in that position, you can pray for people. You can speak encouragement into their circumstance, help them with perspective. You can compliment them on something good they’ve got going on. You can take them for coffee or lunch and just give them an ear to listen.

When times are tough, the trials of life feel like they’re stacking up on top of people. If you can help make one area of someone’s burden lighter, you may have helped them avoid the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

We need each other in the best of times. How much more so that’s true when times are tough.

If you need help yourself in dealing with the things you’re holding afloat, reach out to a friend.

If you don’t have someone to reach out to, I’m at… reach out there, we’ll try to find a way to help hold you up.

Real hard times, harder than now, they claim, might be just around the corner. True or not, we have the capacity to ease one another’s burdens and help make life bearable, even beautiful.

Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church, 618 Russellwood Ave.


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