“Casting all your care upon him (Jesus) because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 What you are about to read is a true story — sort of. The event actually happened; however I might have taken a writer’s liberty to embellish the tale just a bit in my mind’s eye. When I was about 7 years old, my parents bought me a Radio-Flyer wagon. It had black tires, white hubs, shiny chrome moon hub caps and was fire-engine red. It was a real beauty. I spent hours having fun with it. One day I saw my friend Sweetie Tyler walking home from the neighborhood store, struggling to carry a heavy bag of groceries. Sweetie was 6 years old and my first love. I guess she liked older men. As I gazed upon the suffering and plight of this young beauty, a transformation took place. For it was no longer me and my red wagon; it was now the Lone Ranger and his wonder horse, Silver. As I recall, Tonto was on vacation. So, it was I, the Lone Ranger, to the rescue. Believe it or not, as I rushed to her aid, I thought that I could actually hear the music of the “William Tell Overture” playing in the background. I thought bravely, “Have no fear young maiden. I, Kemo-sabe, will save you!” With one knee in the wagon and my hand grasping the handle to steer it, I rushed to her side. My faithful steed, Silver, and I made it in the nick of time. We always did, for we were heroes. The front of my wagon reared up and made a funny noise, similar to that of a neighing horse. When I offered her a ride, she accepted. She looked at me with those sweet blue-green eyes, batted her eyelashes and said, “Oh, Carl, my hero.” She sat in the back of the wagon and I started to pull her home. We must have gone about a block, and I could hear her huffing and puffing. Something was wrong. I was doing all the work. I turned around and to my surprise, I found her still holding on to her heavy bag of groceries. She had not let go of her burden although there was plenty of room in the wagon for both of them. I stopped pulling the wagon, went to her and took the bag of groceries and put them in safely in the wagon behind her. She smiled, and with another twinkle in her eye sighed, “Oh, Carl, thanks.” I replied with my best manly hero voice, “No problem, that’s what friends are for.” Now I said all of that to say this: Suffering confronts us in a variety of ways; yet it is a temporary condition. When we are going through suffering, it seems like forever. Remember that while suffering may be lasting, it is not everlasting. In pain and suffering is found the presence of God. When we are going through tough times or difficult days, we are often tempted to believe we are alone. But we are not. In these times of tragedy, the question arises, “Where is God in all of this?” The only truthful answer is that he is where he always is. He is Emmanuel. He is “God with us.” He is in control. God does not assure us a life free from suffering and pain, but he does pledge to us that when it does come, he will carry us through. There is nothing that you and God can’t get through together. He is ready, willing and able to not only carry you but to carry your burdens also. Set them down in his wagon of grace and enjoy the ride. After all, isn’t that what friends are for? As always, see you next time and have a great day. The Rev. Carl S. Mesiti is pastor of Niedringhaus United Methodist Church in Granite City.