It’s a polite conventional question that usually elicits the response I’m very well, even if you feel as though you have just had an argument with a Number 24 bus and lost. Occasionally you recieve the whole nine yards of illness, injury and misfortune that may make you wish that you hadn’t asked the question, but that’s unusual; most of us would rather remain with the polite, I’m very well, thank you and hope the questioner moves on to talk about the weather or something equaly neutral.
This approach, denying that there is anything wrong, can be counter productive. It can, and does, encourage us to believe what we are telling others, that there is nothing wrong with us, and do nothing about seeking treatment for our ailments. It inhibits us from sharing your misfortune, if you are telling me that you’re perfectly fit, even if I don’t believe you, I can’t go telling people that you’re ill. Jesus commended those who visited the sick and the imprisoned, but if I don’t know you’re sick why would I visit. I have just returned from visiting a couple who, from the sound of it have been knocking on the gates of heaven saying let us in only to be told, Go Away, we’re not ready for you. Another, slightly morbid, reason is so that we can find out more about you before we read about you in the obituary column.
Peter wrtting in his first letter tells us, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Can I move it back a bit? “Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks.” I know it’s a human response, but I don’t want conventional pleasantries I want honesty. After all Paul tells us that we should, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ”. If I don’t know what your burden may be, how can I help you to carry it? I know you’ve got enough problems and I don’t wish to add to them so before you ask, I’m very well, thank you.