“How are you?” “I’m fine, thanks!”
We’ve all engaged in this social greeting formula — even with complete strangers. I did last week while hiking along the river. I came across two fishermen standing in the water. On noticing me, one greeted me cheerfully, saying, “How’re you doing?” Equally cheerfully, I responded, “I’m doing great!” as I continued walking. His exuberant tone had instantly elevated me to loftier heights than merely “okay”. In that moment, my personal troubles didn’t even enter my mind. In that moment, I felt wonderfully fine. Why? Because I caught a wee dose of cheer — as a passing stranger.
Here’s my question: Is it hypocritical to say, “I’m fine”, even while experiencing some health troubles? Was I being dishonest?
That reminds me of the Laodicean Church in Revelation 3:14-22. These folks would have been quite honest in saying, “I’m fine”. They felt materially secure, socially approved, religiously enlightened, healthy, and well-fed. They felt exceptionally fine! But in God’s eyes they were “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17 NIV) That’s not fine — not at all! Obviously, it’s possible to feel fine and say, “I’m fine, thanks!” — and be lying!
Then, there’s the apostle Paul, who openly shared the agony of his sufferings, yet kept insisting, “I’m fine, thanks!” In truth, Paul wrote that he was exceptionally fine because of a legitimate hope embedded within his being:
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV)
I realize that my fine feelings that day were influenced by fantastic weather and rejuvenating exercise. Indeed, you and I can both feel fine and be fine because God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment”. (1 Timothy 6:17b NIV). More significantly, Christ’s new life within sets us free from worry, fear, hopelessness, condemnation, and other such spiritual pathologies which make us feel (and be) dreadfully un-fine. As God’s children, we’re divinely mandated to leave all our anxious burdens with our Master. It’s for our good. It’s how we avoid infecting others with our miseries, and instead, we’re free to uplift those who cross our path.
As for me, God alone knows my full condition, and I entrust myself to His transforming work. Meanwhile, the fine mood that I borrowed one day from a fisherman through a simple social greeting did feel invigorating. I daresay that Paul, too, felt invigorated by the fine mood of a fisherman: the Chief Fisherman Himself! Paul caught the joy of the Lord, “the joy given by the Holy Spirit”. (1 Thessalonians 1:6b NIV)
In due time, you and I will find ourselves engaged in the familiar social greeting formula. Will we be able to say, “I’m fine, thanks!” not just to be gracious, but because we know that we truly are? It’s because we’ve been caught up into the joy of the Chief Fisherman, now no mere stranger to us.
Prayer: Lord, thanks for those little drops of mercy that fall our way and remind us that, in You, we are truly fine. Amen.
Copyright © 2021, by Diane Eaton <email@example.com>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional presbycan.ca .
Paisley, Ontario, Canada
Reprinted from PresbyCan with author’s permission