From At the Master’s Feet, 1922, by Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929) (see Meditation #143)
The great gift of service is that it also helps the one who serves. Once when traveling in Tibet, I was crossing a high mountain pass with my Tibetan guide. The weather had suddenly turned bitterly cold, and my companion and I feared that we might not make it to the next village, still several miles away, before succumbing to the frost.
Suddenly, we stumbled upon a man who had slipped from the path and was lying in the snow. Looking more closely, I discovered that the man was still alive, though barely. “Come,” I said to my companion, “help me try to bring this unfortunate man to safety.” But my companion was upset and frightened for his life. He answered: “If we try to carry that man, none of us will ever reach the village. We will all freeze. Our only hope is to go on as quickly as possible, and that is what I intend to do. You will come with me if you value your life.” Without another word and without looking back, he set off down the path.
I could not bring myself to abandon the helpless traveler while life remained in him, so I lifted him on my back and threw my blanket around us both as best I could. Slowly and painstakingly, I picked my way along the steep, slippery path with my heavy load. Soon it began to snow, and I could make out the way forward only with great difficulty.
How we made it, I do not know. But just as daylight was beginning to fade, the snow cleared and I could see houses a few hundred yards ahead. Near me, on the ground, I saw the frozen body of my guide. Nearly within shouting distance of the village, he had succumbed to the cold and died, while the unfortunate traveler and I made it to safety. The exertion of carrying him and the contact of our bodies had created enough heat to save us both. This is the way of service. No one can live without the help of others, and in helping others, we receive help ourselves.
Proverbs 11:17 — A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings trouble on himself.
God’s patience is infinite. Men, like small kettles, boil quickly with wrath at the least wrong. Not so God. If God were as wrathful, the world would have been a heap of ruins long ago.
2 Peter 3:8-9 — But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
If a blind man comes groping along the road, it is only right that we who can see should step aside and avoid bumping into him. And if he, by accident, bumps into us, we should not take offense, but rather help him find his way. If we get annoyed about it, it only proves that we are blinder than the blind man himself, completely lacking both common sense and human sympathy.
Similarly, if anyone persecutes us because we follow the truth, we should, instead of being offended, forgive and pray for that person in love.
Proverbs 12:16 — A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. —Book of Common Prayer