Long ago, in a far-away land, there lived a queen. The queen was very beautiful and she was loved by all the people in the land. She spent her days in sovereign ways, exercising mercy and pouring out grace upon all that she encountered. She spent her evenings conversing with the King and trying to make sure her actions lined up with his desires. The queen slept very well and always awoke with a smile to greet each day.
One morning the queen awoke without a smile. Her heart was heavy and her eyes were tearful but she did not know why. She spurned her normal activities to sit quietly in her garden and try to determine why she was so sad. Pacing to and fro, the queen became anxious and then irritable as the sadness threatened to overtake her very life. Still, she did not understand its source.
The sadness gripped the queen and would not leave. For many days and nights she mourned and wept, for what she did not know. The queen’s heart was so heavy that she no longer felt love or joy or peace or happiness. She began to believe that her heart was as dead as her mind and she longed to escape the dreadful depths of her despair. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, the queen began blaming everyone around her for her despair. The people turned away from her to escape the blackness that engulfed her and her husband found other ways to entertain himself in the evenings. Soon the queen was all alone with her grief and in her loneliness she began to devise ways to take her own life.
The king sent many wise counselors to see the queen. Each one would try to identify her problem and give her helpful suggestions for turning around her life. Each one would find a fault within the queen that must be the cause. Each one would tell the queen to stop thinking bad thoughts and start thinking good thoughts and she would then be whole and complete. One even told her that if she would just start doing things for other people she would feel better about herself – surely she must know that her despair is caused by the way she looks at herself and thinks only of herself.
The counselors did more harm than good, for the queen was a wise and virtuous queen who had spent her life thinking of others, giving out far more than she received, and showing great love to those far less fortunate than she. The queen had never been concerned with herself and had never spent time dwelling on herself so she instinctively knew that these counselors were wrong.
One late afternoon in the fall of the year, not long after the harvest had been finished, the queen dressed in common apparel and went for a walk up the lane toward the village. At the edge of the village she saw a man sitting on a log who looked the way she felt. Even in her despair the queen recognized a soul in need though she did not have the energy to offer a helping hand. Instead she stopped and sat on the log beside the man. The man smelled very bad and his breath rose in clouds of great stench. Still the queen sat beside him. The man never looked up at the queen, completely lost in his own thoughts as he stared at the ground before him. The queen began to look at the same little spot of ground, trying to see what the man might be seeing. And then, without a word, the queen lifted a limp, lifeless hand and laid it upon the forearm of the man. It was a gesture of friendship – a small, silent offer of comfort. It was the best that the queen had to offer, for she was completely without life or hope.
Slowly, the man lifted his gaze to look at the hand on his arm, and then to the face of the one who sat beside him. A small tear began to slide down his cheek as he whispered, “Thank you, ma’am.” The two sat solemnly together on that log for what seemed an eternity, as the evening turned to dusk and the stars began to glitter in the sky. And then, with a squaring of his shoulders and firming of his jaw, the man arose, turned and bowed to the queen, and took his departure. She watched him walk away and with each step he took her mood seemed to lighten. Slowly, before she was even aware of it, she realized she was no longer sad. She wasn’t happy, exactly, but she wasn’t sad! The mourning was gone. The despair had departed along with the sad little man who seemed no longer sad.
The queen bounced up from the log with a familiar bounce returning to her step as she turned back to the castle. She hurried on in the growing darkness, grinning up at the rising moon, rejoicing in the fact that she was not sad! And as she entered the castle gates she once again turned to her former activities with a renewed appreciation for all that she had.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ