Everybody Hurts

Our Common Humanity

In the song Everybody Hurts by R.E.M., we are reminded of the fragile nature of the human experience. Michael Stipe’s plaintive vocals turns some lyrics into a plea for compassion and understanding: “When the day is long and the night, the night is yours alone…when you're sure you've had enough of this life, well hang on. Don't let yourself go, everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes.”

Everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes.It is obvious that there is much more than a grain of truth encapsulated in that nutshell. No one escapes the multitude sorrows of this world. Quite often tears and pain manufacture the gritty adhesive that binds us together.

Given that, it is difficult to comprehend the ease at which we slip into a callous and hardhearted mode. It seems that we all have the capacity to become deaf, dumb and blind to the incessant desperation of human misery. What is really mind boggling is to witness adults teach their children to ignore or poke fun at those who are different or less fortunate. Do those bigoted jokers honestly believe that they will never fall prey to the random vicissitudes of our common humanity?

A Foreshadowing Illustration

Jesus of Nazareth painted a portrait of the meaning of compassion that is so raw that it reaches up inside to lacerate our conscience. In his foreshadowing illustration, history as we perceive it has passed into eternity. All the nations are gathered before Christ the triumphant king, who in the role of a shepherd separates people into two groups, referring to them as sheep and goats.

The sheep are gathered on his right hand. I can picture happy faces beaming with an inner joy of stillness. Christ warmly welcomes them into the blessings and inheritance of heaven because “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” In effect, Christ has said to them: “I was crying, I was hurting and you comforted me. You helped me through my time of trouble.”

To which the sheep respond with gasps of surprise and wonder: “What are you talking about, Lord? When did we ever see you hungry, hurting or homeless? When did we ever see you in need?” Christ answers: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

After that, Christ turns his attention to those goats on his left hand. Here I imagine forlorn expressions of wide-eyed agitation. Milling impatiently, they are judged with a righteous fairness because they have seen individuals in the distress of hunger, thirst, imprisonment and loneliness, but chose to do nothing.

Condemned to a punishment utterly beyond our ability to fathom, the goats launch wails of protest: “What are you talking about, Lord? When did we ever see you hungry, hurting or homeless? When did we ever see you in need?” It is then that Christ unsheathes the sword that slices to our core: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

The Meaning Of Compassion

The point is that despite the lies we all whisper in the secret chambers of our heart, no one has an excuse to neglect those who have fallen into pits of misfortune or despair. We cannot abdicate our obligation to each other by transferring sole responsibility to religious, social or governmental agencies. We are to love everyone; we are to be personally involved and extend a helping hand wherever and whenever we can provide aid or solace to alleviate suffering.

We ought to resolve to cultivate a tenderhearted attitude, which manifests itself in acts of kindness that prevail even when the critical winds of our cynical culture threaten to howl. In the action of lending support or assistance we identify with those in dire straits and catch a glimpse of our own tenuous grasp on health and earthly security.

Modern-day scribes and Pharisees will most certainly continue to engage in debates on the whys and wherefores of human need, but in doing so they miss the focus of Christ’s meaning of compassion:

We are to be motivated by an empathy that sees Jesus in the weak, weary and downtrodden amongst us. We are to serve where service is needed simply because everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes.

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Comments 17 comments

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

This is a beautiful message, Ken. You are a good man and a fine writer. I enjoyed reading this Hub. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, James. It isn't getting many hits today. I hope it picks up this afternoon & tomorrow.

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

My hits counter hasn't changed one notch in 24 hours. It's not working. Technical problem. :)

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Well, you know what they say about technology. It's great...when it works. :>)

PinanShodan 7 years ago

Awesome article Ken, Jesus is the Answer to all of our problems!

desperadotoo profile image

desperadotoo 7 years ago

Ken, I agree with the premise of your message but I am very uncertain about it's implementation. Who do we say no to? Do we help only fellow Christians? Does this love extend to Muslims or the suffering of Darfur? And where does "Do not cast pearls before swine" come into this configuration? I do believe you are a good man and this is an intersting, thought provoking, hub.

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

desperatotoo - Thanks for stopping by & sharing. Love your username. When Jesus was asked about the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves, he told a story that had a despised Samaritan showing love to a Jew. From it we are to learn that whoever is in need is our neighbor, so yes, caring & love extends to Muslims & those suffering in Darfur & elsewhere on this globe of pain.

The "do not cast pearls before swine" is a troubling passage that I have wrestled with in the past, but not in the context of attempting to alleviate human suffering.

Blessings & much encouragement to you.

desperadotoo profile image

desperadotoo 7 years ago

I feel that particular passage is approriate in the sense that our love is perhaps the greatest pearl that we have to offer to others...so, i am curious to know if, each time you see someone on the corner begging for money, do you give them some?...and does your Chrisitanity also apply to your political perspective? don't mean to hog up your comment section. i am always trying to expand my horizons..thanks

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

desperadotoo - Actually a genuine expression of love to someone begging for money, would be to come alongside them & take them out to dinner, entering into a relationship with them. That'd be true to the incarnational princple that God demonstrated by entering human history as Christ to walk alongside us.

And yes, I have done so. I have done volunteer work in a homeless shelter & also in a crisis pregnancy center & served as a chaplain for a hospice.

I certainly pray that what I believe works itself out in my political perspective & all avenues of my life, though it is always an ongoing process. If you read my Hub "Watching The River Flow" you will discover that I am a political junkie.

We are frail & easily sidetracked, which is one of the reasons grace is so amazing.

Tom Kathy 6 years ago

I enjoyed 2 of your hubpages today. They both carried a similar message. One that I am glad that I heard today.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, Kathy. Glad you enjoyed the message.

bonny2010 profile image

bonny2010 6 years ago from outback queensland

i enjoyed this hub,but then when haven't i enjoyed one of your hubs - have a nice day

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

bonny2010 - Thank you for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed this one. Blessings to you.

ChristineVianello profile image

ChristineVianello 5 years ago from Philadelphia

Great message, I really enjoyed it.

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

ChristineVianello - Thank you. Blessings.

Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

Jo_Goldsmith11 5 years ago

You are so Amazing! I really love the song and the way you have written this so perfectly. I had forgotten about REM. I loved the lead singer when I was growing up. It is a great song.

Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Jo - Thank you. You are too kind. Your words are much appreciated. Blessings.

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