Have you heard of the domino effect?
It’s the cumulative effect produced when one event sets off a chain of similar events. While it is often used to describe a negative pattern, it also applies to some positive emotional chain reactions in our world.
As humans, we often suffer from an arrogance that we can achieve whatever we want to on our own, but as 17th century Christian theologian John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself”.
Our lives are full of chain reactions and we have to learn that we can’t do everything on our own—we need other people to help us.
I was reminded of this recently when I felt frustrated that I couldn’t manage everyone else’s difficulties, no matter how hard I tried.
Then the domino effect cut in. It only took one person unexpectedly agreeing to do one small task to suddenly change my whole outlook. Now I wasn’t alone—there were people to help and the domino effect for me was that the other issues I was dealing with now seemed less problematic and life looked a lot brighter. All because of one small favour from another person.
We should always remember that we are never alone, and that God is always walking beside us. But as we are fallible humans who forget this, we become determined to soldier on, taking everything on our own shoulders and making a meal out of it. Or sometimes a dog’s breakfast…
Joseph M. Scriven was a 19th century Irish poet who had his fair share of troubles. The night before his marriage, his fiancée died in an accident, and he fled to North America to start a new life. While staying in Canada, he received news that his mother was seriously ill in Ireland, so Scriven used his skill as a wordsmith to send her these words of comfort.
“What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!”
These words are so true yet we forget that we can always share our troubles with that good listener, God. There is plenty of hope and guidance for us in the Bible too.
Jesus told his followers “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew chapter 11, verses 28–30)
And there is more wisdom for us in John’s Gospel.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid”
(John chapter 14, verse 27).
Sounds good to me.