Living In A Hurting World

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For the second night in a row the news showed the images of a video showing a young disabled man from Chicago being tortured and beaten.  I don’t know about you, but the state of our broken world has me lying awake at night. Heartbroken over the condition of our country where something like this can happen. Grieving over the loss of his innocence and the pain and fear he must have experienced.  Horrified by the attackers lack of remorse and saddened by the idea that hate and evil has won out.

It’s 2017, and injustice, oppression and racism is rampant, causing innocent people to fear for their lives just because of the color of their skin.  Sometimes, I feel powerless. I feel overwhelmed. I feel afraid. When I watch the news and social media I see such total disregard for human life, I am slapped in the face with the reality that the world we live in is a fallen, broken, hurting, and dangerous one.  We can see it in the innocent blood that is spilled. We see it everyday in the angry political  exchanges on television and in our own Facebook news feed.  We see it in the well meaning Christians who do not know what our God asks of us because they do not open up their Bible. We see it in those who do not know God and instead seek answers from other people they deem wise.

We live in a world that needs Jesus, We need not look any farther than the scriptures to know how God responded to pain while on this earth. Jesus spent much of His life among suffering people, hurting people and His response to them shows us how God feels about pain. He always responded to hurting people with sadness and grief. When Jesus’ friend died, He wept. I am confident that Jesus wept over that young man being tortured and hurt.

We need to diligently pray for that young man.  We need to Pray for hurting families and broken communities that have had their children ripped from them by senseless violence. Pray for those who protect us along with their families that have suffered loss. Pray for churches to minister to the hurting. Pray for people not to lose heart. And, yes, pray for Jesus to come back and set this broken world right.

In our day-to-day experiences of life, we have opportunities to learn to be like Jesus, to choose to be patient, to be considerate, to feed the poor, to help others, to pray. On the job and in our homes, Jesus has something to say about what we do.

We will experience problems in life whether or not we follow Jesus. Our choice is not whether to have problems, but whether we learn from those problems. Do we react to them the way Jesus would, or do we become bitter and seek revenge and hate? We learn more about love when we love people who are hard to love; we learn more about forgiveness when people sin against us. Our character is shaped more like Jesus not so much in good times, but in difficult times. We do not always understand why God allows people to suffer. We may not see any good in it, or any lesson to learn. But God assures us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). We may not know how—we just have to trust him.

We can begin with teaching our children to love as Christ loves, we need to teach our children that every life is precious and valued. We don’t need to paint for them a picture of a country with a history of inequality, but talk to them about the progress that still needs to be made. We need to never stop teaching them not to be hateful or mean, but to stand up for those who fall victim to hate and bullying.  Allow them to be colorblind.  My kids use to love this little song O be careful little ears what you hear, be careful little ears what you hear, There’s a Father up above, And He’s looking down in love,So, be careful little ears what you hear.  Unfortunately, they become racist from the words they here at home and school.  We need to diligently protect them from the ways of the world.

Most important we need to pray with them for those that are hurting and be intentional about how we can actively make a difference in the lives of others.

Dear God,

Some days feel too hard. We’re hurting. Struggling. Fighting fear and worry at every turn. Thank you in the midst of it all, you haven’t left us to fend for ourselves. Forgive us for doubting you are there. Forgive us for thinking you’ve forgotten. Forgive us for believing we somehow know the better way.

You are fully trustworthy. You are All Powerful. You are Able. You are Lord over every situation no matter how difficult it may seem. You are Healer and will never waste the grief we carry today. You will use all things for good in some way. Anything is possible with you. Nothing is too difficult for you.

We pray for those who grieve today. We ask for your comfort to surround those who weep. We pray for the peace of your presence to cover our minds and thoughts, as you remind us, the enemy can never steal us out of your hands. He never has the final say over our lives. We are kept safe in your presence forever, whether in life or in death.

We thank you that your ways are higher than our ways and your thoughts are bigger than our thoughts.

We lay it all down at your feet, every burden, every care. Believing that is the safest place for it to be.

We love you Lord, we need your fresh grace.

In the Powerful Name of Jesus,

Amen.

Empathy Is Important For Christians

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The one thing that I am learning is that as Christians we need empathy.  Why?  The reason is simple, so we can share in the suffering and pain of our friends and fellow Christians.

I have found in my life that the Lord often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad to our deepest calling.  It is because of the hardships the Lord has allowed in my life, I’m able to feel more than sympathy and give my friends the gift of empathy. It’s a hard-won, precious gift.

The definition of empathy according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is the “feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.” It’s hard to put yourself in someone else’s place when you have no point of reference. But as God allows certain experiences in our lives, we don’t have to imagine empathy because we feel it automatically; it is a gift we can give a hurting person.

My second child Casey passed away from congenital heart disease.  The pain of losing my son is something I carry with me always. I know what it is to live with pain — emotional and physical. It is from that hardship (among others), I am able to draw from a deep well of empathy.

I was talking with a new friend the other day, and she started sharing how she lost a daughter a few years ago. The hurt she felt was still so raw that she started crying. Tears came to my eyes as I shared that I knew exactly how she felt, because I had gone through the same thing. I explained my feelings of loss, how there will always be a hole in my life where Casey should be no matter how much time has passed. How I often think of how old he would be now and how the pain deepens on important days like his birthday, when he would have graduated from high school etc.. Yet I know my son is with the Lord, and it is only sad for those of us left behind. My friend nodded through her tears and said no one ever understands how she feels. Empathy is a bridge of understanding; through my own loss I could share in hers.

The apostle Paul says in Romans 12:15. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”  We are taught as Christians to share our friends emotional experiences. I am drawn to the action words of this statement. It doesn’t say, “Feel bad for those who are mourning.” It says we need to literally cry with them. Have the same emotion they are having — with a passion — one that brings forth tears. This is a powerful teaching Paul is trying to get across to the church in Rome and ultimately to all Christians. We are all called to show grace and love to hurting people, even when we can only guess at how they feel, but the true depth of empathy is achieved through experience.

Christ was our ultimate example of empathy. He literally put himself in our place when He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. So when God allows us to go through a hardship, we should consider it a privilege to suffer as our Lord Jesus suffered and use our experience to bless others.

It takes a brave person to pray for empathy, braver than me, but God allows experiences in my life that “teach” me this gift. Trials in our lives have many purposes; it took a long time of walking with the Lord and studying His Word for me to discover the lessons hidden in my own hardships and sufferings. They are often for our growth: to teach us reliance on God, to draw us back or closer to our Savior, or to give us empathy for our neighbor.

As Christians, we have a higher calling. We have been bought at a price and are no longer our own, but humble servants to our Heavenly Father. The greatest commandments are to love our Lord with all our hearts, minds and souls, and to love others as ourselves. In a world rampant with selfishness, vanity, bullying and greed, God offers us a better way. We are after all His hands and feet, and what better way to represent our Lord and serve others than with the gift of empathy?

The Lord Will Rescue Us

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The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from their trials. 2 Peter 2:9
We all face trials of many kinds. No one is spared from the storms of life. Some of these trials seem unending, it’s as if there is a huge mountain in your way and you are trapped on all sides, unable to move even an inch. But remember we serve a God whose hand made the heaven and the earth and nothing is too hard for Him.
– He is mighty to save
– No mountain is bigger than Him
– God knows when and how to deliver you.
We always want to know HOW God will do it. Let us leave the questions to Him and let’s trust Him.

Dear Heavenly Father, help us through the trials and tribulations we are experiencing in our lives. Sometimes we feel alienated and alone, and we faithfully ask for your help. Guide us Lord through these storms of life, and help us to always remember that you alone are the way, the truth and the light. Stay with us, Strengthen us Lord, You have promised to keep us in perfect peace when our mind and heart are fixed upon You.  Help us to wholeheartedly seek You and rely on Your Holy Word so that we will experience perfect peace.  It is in this spiritual attitude that we will fully trust You to work out the problems that greatly concern us. You have overcome the world and You will also help us to overcome our troubles.  Amen.