“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)
I came home feeling heavy and my heart ached for her. I realized I needed to pray. I wanted to pray. I knew that prayer was the first and most effective way to help my friend. This was quite a departure from my usual go-to solutions for helping a hurting friend. But earlier in the day God had been preparing me and opening my eyes to the importance of praying for those in need around me.
Most importantly, I saw this through the very timely blog post I had read, “When Her Burden is Yours: Fighting for Friends on Our Knees.” This post had captured my attention with the title and had kept it throughout the article. The key was when it said, “The disciples were a small motley crew for whom [Jesus] cared deeply … Jesus relinquished all control He could have had in their lives to His Father. Then He performed the simplest, most powerful act: He prayed for them.”
Lately I have seen a lot of hurting people around me and I often feel helpless and burdened for them. It sometimes feels like a load that is too big for me to carry. Yet, I am also reminded of this verse, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). So then, is it biblical for me to be overwhelmed by those in pain around me? No, I don’t think that is what God intends in it at all!
I believe this because I had also read something else relevant in my devotional that morning, “You know God does nothing by accident. When a need surfaces around you, immediately got to the Father and say, ‘You put me here for a reason. You knew this was going to happen. What did You intend to do through me that would help this person become closer to You?'” (Experiencing God Day by Day)
“Go to the Father” – well that sounds an awful lot a lot like prayer again, doesn’t it? Therefore, this quote is also saying that my first response when I hear about a need should be to take it to God in prayer. That usually isn’t how it works for me though. I fret and worry about someone’s need, sometimes talk it over with trusted friends or family members, maybe journal to process my thoughts about it and then finally turn to God with it all.
Worry should not be our first instinct in hard times though. Doing so is when a heavy heart for others starts to come into play. Jesus said, “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life. Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:24-26)
This idea about worry also takes me back to the blog post, When Her Burden is Yours. It says toward the end, “I fight for my friends because I love them. I want God to invade their lives with all of His power. He does not want me to worry. He does not want me to fear. He wants me to give over every piece of worry-riddled pain and name it in His presence.” Oh Lord, let me take these words to heart in my own life!
I can also see the relevance to this in a section from a book I just started reading. Taking a cue from the passage in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 it says, “God didn’t initiate the pain in Paul’s life but He does redeem the pain … God doesn’t promise to remove pain. Instead he offers grace that is sufficient to see them through the pain” (Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart: How to Relate to Those Who are Suffering).
While I initially read this section thinking about how to offer comfort and help to others who are suffering, I can see how it also relates to the pain we feel while empathizing with others’ pain around us. And the “sufficient grace” that God offers to see us through all this? Well, I now believe He wants to use our compassion for others to point us right back to Him and the power of prayer in each situation. In doing so He will “redeem” our own heavy hearts as well.
**I am linking up today with Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart. Click on the image below to find other great posts in the linkup**