Note from Dr. Jim Denison: I am grateful to my son, Ryan Denison, for writing The Daily Article this week while I am traveling. Ryan is a graduate of Baylor University and Truett Seminary and is completing his doctoral dissertation in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute. He serves as Senior Fellow for Theology with our ministry and writes often in my absence. I am certain you will find his insights to be both biblical and practical.
Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are no strangers to the media. As part of the royal family, Harry and his brother have been lightning rods for global attention since their birth. That attention only increased after their mother, Princess Diana, died in a car accident while trying to get away from the paparazzi.
As an actress prior to becoming a princess, Meghan Markle was also no stranger to being the center of attention, whether it was wanted or not. As a recent interview with British television channel ITV demonstrates, however, experience with being trapped in the public eye does not make it any easier to bear.
The couple recently took a ten-day trip to Africa to work with several charities and check up on much of the work that Harry’s mother began prior to her tragic death. They spoke excitedly about all the progress being made and the joy they felt in getting the chance to be part of it, but there were also candid moments of grief when the conversation veered toward their strained relationship with the media. The most poignant was Meghan’s reply to anchor Tom Bradby’s question regarding how she was holding up after recently giving birth to the couple’s first child.
The Duchess replied, “Thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m OK, but it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”
Bradby followed up with “Would it be fair to say, not really OK, as in it’s really been a struggle?” to which she simply responded yes.
The exchange was a fairly minor part of the larger documentary, but it’s received quite a bit of attention, with the hashtag #WeLoveYouMeghan trending on Twitter and hundreds of thousands expressing their support for the princess.
And while we probably shouldn’t be surprised that there would be an outpouring of love for such comments, the degree to which people genuinely seem to feel for the Duchess is worth noting. CNN‘s Kara Alaimo spoke for many when she called the interview “gut-wrenching.”
It’s easy for any parent to sympathize with the trials that come from having a newborn in the house. Those relatively sleepless nights, constant demands on your time and attention, and the way that anyone else who has ever even seen a baby can feel entitled to tell you how to better raise yours make it an inescapably trying time, even though it’s still worth every second.
What makes the Duchess’s statements hit so hard, however, is the way that they convey a sense of isolation and an unspoken cry for help.
While none of us likely understand the pressures associated with being part of the royal family, most of us can probably think of a time when it felt like we were drowning while those around us watched on with relative disregard. To an extent, that’s just part of living in a world where everyone is dealing with their own problems and do not always have the time or energy to help with ours. That we often make sure those cries for help never escape our lips because of some misguided sense of pride or the belief that it wouldn’t matter even if we did certainly doesn’t help either.
As Christians tasked with taking Jesus to our culture, though, that reality presents us with some very low-hanging fruit for how we can make a real difference in the lives of others.
Moving beyond common courtesy
Throughout his ministry, Jesus made it a point to be aware of the people the Father placed in his path so he would not miss those divinely appointed, yet seemingly ordinary, opportunities to help those the rest of the world overlooked.
Whether it was the woman at the well (John 4:1–45), Zacchaeus hiding up in a tree (Luke 19:1–10), or the woman who touched the hem of his robes as he passed by (Luke 8:42–48), some of Christ’s most powerful moments of ministry happened simply because he took the initiative to strike up a conversation with someone who needed it.
As a natural introvert, I’ll be the first to tell you that this is one aspect of Jesus’ ministry I find difficult to replicate. Oftentimes, though, it’s the people we know well—friends, coworkers, neighbors—to whom we are best equipped to minister in this capacity. The key to following Christ’s example is being attentive to those around us and, most importantly, to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
Sometimes, casual conversations can make the greatest impact on another person’s life. And simply taking the time to engage at a level beyond what’s required for common courtesy can really stand out.
Noticing the Meghan Markles around you
Today, you are likely to encounter several people who, like Duchess Meghan, are hurting in ways that are not apparent unless you ask.
For most of us, our natural inclination is to move on with our day, oblivious to their need. In so doing, we are likely to fit right in with the vast majority of those in our culture who will do the same.
However, that tragic reality can open the door for the kind of redemptive conversations that carry eternal significance.
Oftentimes, even the hurting people around us are unaware of just how much they crave the sense of genuine concern and compassion that should come naturally to those who live every day infused with the Holy Spirit’s presence.
Just because it should come naturally does not mean it will, though, and it can take intentionality and practice to do well, especially at the start. But if we’re willing to open ourselves to the Spirit’s guidance and model the empathy that made Jesus so attractive to the hurting people he encountered, we will make a dramatic impact on those we meet.
It worked for Jesus nearly two thousand years ago. It can work for us as well.
Will you do your part?