“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).”
“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,Or what’s a heaven for?”-Robert Browning
As a boy, Ben Carson didn’t reach for much. He was a failing African-American student in Detroit, without much ambition other than to watch TV.
However, in the movie “Gifted Hands”, the true story of Ben Carson the reach of Ben’s mother exceeded his own grasp. Through discipline, hounding and instruction, despite her own illiteracy and severe depression, Ben’s mother wills Ben and his brother to succeed.
Ben doesn’t think he has it in him to succeed academically. “My brain is too small,” he tells his Mom.
However, Ben’s mother tells him he has a lot in there. He can do anything he wants to do or be anything he wants to be.
As a dunce, Ben is ridiculed by his classmates. But by the 8th grade, Ben is the top student in his class. Even then, he faces discriminatory, public remarks by a bigoted teacher.
However, he has a severe problem: his temper. In one instance, Ben argues with his mother and has to be restrained by his brother when he comes after her with a hammer. In another, he has a dispute with his best friend and tries to stab him with a switchblade, which fortunately breaks before it does any harm.
Immediately after the latter scene, Ben runs home to his room, and grabs his Bible. He rocks back and forth, begging God to help him overcome his temper.
Ben goes on to medical school, but again has trouble with is school work, having to pass an important exam in order to go on. His girlfriend gives him a strategy for studying, and Ben gets an A.
In the ensuing decade, Ben becomes one of the world’s top pediatric neuroseurgeons. Yet, he is exasperated as he realizes there was nothing he could do to save his own twin babies when his wife has a miscarriage.
Enter Ben’s mother again. She moves in with the family, and she again offers encouragement as he faces the biggest test of his life.
Ben is called upon to seperate two babies joined at the head. In such cases, when they are separated, one of the children dies.
Ben struggles mightily for a solution to this problem. After several months of study, he comes up with a solution.
After 22 hours of surgery, Ben and his team successfully separates the two babies. He is a hero, to the children’s parents, to the media and to the world.
The reason the movie is called “Gifted Hands” is that Ben Carson has indeed received a couple rare talents. First, he can see three-dimensionally. Second, he has extremely coordinated hands.
Ben would have never been in a position to use those gifts for good had it not been for his mother, and other people close to him. He needed help to overcome his sense of inferiority and lack of ambition.
Once he put his trust in what his mother and girlfriend told him about himself, and received their assistance, Ben flew with eagles. He was able to become the man God had gifted him to be.
Gideon, a young man of ancient Israel, had a similar experience to that of Ben Carson. He faced overwhelming odds, and thought there was no way out of his “ghetto”.
When God came to Gideon and called him to lead a military campaign against his country’s oppressors, the Midianites, Gideon just mocked Him. In addition, he reminded God of his own insufficiencies (Judges 6:1-15).
Gideon had his own inferiority complex. In addition, he struggled with fear.
Yet, Gideon began to do what God told him, and he got help. He took ten of his closest companions and started his campaign locally.
When the local people wanted to come after Gideon for his actions, even to kill him, guess who came to his aid: his father. Gideon’s Dad Joash argued strongly in favor of his son, and convinced the people to back off (Judges 6:
As Gideon enlarged his military action, he took with him those from his own tribe. In addition, when the key moment took place, he had his closest friend beside him, who lend him encouragement (Judges 6:33-35,7:9-14).
Most of all, before Gideon engaged in the key battle of is campaign, he went to the Lord for help. He sought strength and power from Him in order to overcome his innate fear (Judges 6:36-40).
Gideon and his closest friends won a mighty victory. In doing so, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon (Judges 7:18,20)”.
It was only after he had depended on those closest to help him win his battles that Gideon called in outsiders for more help. These Johnny-Come-Latelys tried to criticize him for not calling on them earlier. Gideon did not argue with them, but handled them diplomatically (Judges 7:24-25, 8:1-3).
A couple of nights ago, I came home as exasperated as Gideon when God called him to his military role. I was quite burdened.
I have been seeking God for week’s on a course of action in a current dilemma, and asked Him for help. Yet, the assistance has been like the water dripping from a faucet.
I was facing a key moment in this situation, and yet didn’t have the power or resources to carry it out. I finally told my wife how I felt.
She gave me some of the wisest counsel I have ever received in reply. She told me that I should not be going at my problem alone, but should depend on my family.
I knew she was right. I had been trying to operate like George Mueller, the saint famous in Christianity for praying in resources and not relying on the help of others.
However, I came to the conclusion that my situation was not a George Mueller moment, but one that required the participation of everyone in my brood.
So I called a family meeting for the next morning. As I approached it, I did so with fear and trepidation.
I wondered how my kids would react. Would they respond like Gideon’s boy did when his father called on him to take part in his campaign?
As the war winds down, Gideon tells his son to kill two kings they have captured. The boy shakes in his boots and does nothing.
The kings, Zebah and Zalmunna ( a couple of great names if I have ever heard any) tell Gideon,“Come, do it yourself. ‘As is the man, so is his strength (Judges 8:21).’”
Steve Nelson, head of an organization called Premeditated Parenting”, has an interesting interpretation of this little incident. He notes that the phrase ‘As is the man, so is his strength” means that a man is proved to be a man by his strength.
He sees this incident as one in which the two kings basically insult Gideon and his son, calling the boy a sissy. The inference is that the boy is the reflection of the father.
This is how I felt when I came to our family meeting. My thoughts were “now I will see how well I have raised my kids”.
I am so proud of my family. They responded graciously and even offered to help when I explained the situation, before I had the gumption to ask.
I learned a big lesson this week. It is an old-fashioned principle that I and I believe many others in our world today have forgotten.
When the chips are down, it is essential to depend on God, but it is also vital that we share our burdens with our family and others closest to us! After all, if anyone loves us, cares for us and has our backs, it’s them.