When You’re Given a Front Row Seat to Suffering…
Today’s Bible reading is Job 16 and Luke 9.
Now it happened that as he was praying alone… (Luke 9:18)
I rented a small truck last night to move a refrigerator. If I didn’t want to pay $8 per gallon, I was expected to return the truck with a full tank. As I swiped my card at the gas pump and started to reach for the same nozzle I always reach for, (thankfully) a light bulb went off in my head. Unleaded or diesel? There’s a big difference between the engine in that moving truck and the engine in my Toyota Camry.
An opportunity of a different sort presented itself to all of us this morning: a new day with more time to open our God-given hearts to a world of possibilities, and what we pump into those hearts matters more than most of us probably realize.
If you’re like me, it’s way too easy to spend the morning “fueling up” on mostly meaningless, empty, earthbound stuff… sports scores, political news, overnight Instagram photos, trends on Twitter, the endless scroll of the Facebook feed…
…and then the phone rings, or the text arrives, or the email lands, or someone slows you down with tears in their eyes and you’ve suddenly been given a front row seat to a real need or heartache or doubt or fear…
…the diagnosis is cancer. There’s been a miscarriage. The life of a loved one was tragically cut short. Infidelity is suspected. A prodigal child has wandered farther away. The job was lost. The grief is getting heavier. The tears won’t stop. The loneliness is near unbearable…
…and the day hasn’t begun like I thought it would. I’m unexpectedly entrusted with a sacred opportunity to help bear a heavy burden. But what do I have to offer in that moment? What can I pour out? Is there anything fresh on my heart of more significance than last night’s college basketball scores and the latest stock market projections? What strength has the celebrity gossip and the funny cat meme provided me?
The gospels are full of brief glimpses into what Jesus did with “down time.” In desolate places. Early in the morning. Late at night. Before the crowds came knocking at the door.
“Now it happened that as he was praying alone…”
Life in this post-Genesis 3 world continues to happen, sometimes in ways that break our hearts. Am I making the most of my peaceful time in between the storms? When the darkness comes close enough to feel, do I have fuel to shine? When the earth quakes beneath my feet, am I grounded in God’s wisdom and equipped to share eternal perspective with others? When sorrows like sea-billows roll, do I know where the anchor is? Have I been following in his holy footsteps–praying alone, meditating on God-breathed words, drinking deeply from life-giving fountains–so that no matter what is going on around me, I can still hear his voice? “It is I; do not be afraid.”
Is today a good day for you so far? I hope it is. So let’s think ahead. When the phone rings, or the text arrives, or the email lands, or someone stops us with tears in their eyes and we suddenly have a front row seat to suffering and doubt, will we have so recently walked with Jesus that it feels natural to stand in the gap and connect those trembling hands of the hurting with his?
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