6. Contact a Friend Who is Lonely or Hurting
A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a cold evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor's visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he watched the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host was captivated as he watched all this in silence. As the one lone ember's flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead. Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it. As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, "Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday."
Loneliness is a big obstacle to perseverance. Sometimes you can even feel isolated in a crowd. Whatever is going on in your heart and life today understand everybody goes through loneliness at some point in life—even the apostle Paul. Paul was experiencing loneliness. “Who really understands me? How many people do I know that have really walked the road that I'm walking?” In II Timothy 4, Paul is nearing the end of his life. Paul is wrapping up his second letter to Timothy, he writes, II Timothy 4:9, “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:.” Now that is a pretty vulnerable request. In a manner of words Paul said, “Son, I don’t mind telling you that I need you ASAP!” Paul had not hidden from Timothy the affection he had for him (I Timothy 1:2; II Timothy 1:2).
Sufferers often struggle with feeling isolated and alone. One of their biggest needs is to have people reach out and pursue a relationship with them. If you are a Christian who has faced suffering in your life, then you have probably encountered a fellow Christian who wanted to provide comfort and help to you. Communicating with people going through a difficult time can mean a lot. It really makes a difference to a hurting friend or fellow Christian to know that we are thinking of and praying for them. Even if it’s just a few brief words of encouragement expressing your love and prayer support. And, of course, you could stop by their home or hospital room to visit and pray with them.
Human friendships are part of God’s gift to us. As we live in the reality of these truths, and thus, grow in faith and trust, each day that we suffer we begin to recognize some of the ways God shows His compassion for us. We begin to appreciate His compassion in giving us family and friends as well as the beauty and comfort of Your nature; the blessings we so often take for granted. We begin to notice and recognize His "small" compassions, unexpected help from a stranger, an encouraging note, a faithful pet curled up at our feet or in our lap, or a biography of a Christian who has gone through suffering. We begin to thank our heavenly Father for a heightened awareness and a greater appreciation of His loving kindness. We begin to realize that "all things" really does mean all things. And even when we feel that our various needs for comfort and encouragement are not being met as we would like, in any and all disappointing and hurting situations we can take hope in the midst of our hurts because we know that God is faithful to His commitment to our welfare--today and forever.
Finally, we have all the Biblical promises of an eternal future with our Lord in heaven. This life is only a brief moment compared to eternity. The hurts of today will soon be gone forever. For the Christian, there is surely hope in the midst of hurt! Sometimes all it takes to help someone who is lonely is a kind word, a card or letter, or just an occasional short visit.
Prayer: Father, we thank You that You came to us in the person of your Son, Jesus Christ. You did not forget us, and You did not leave us alone. We bless You for remembering us in our misery and coming to save us through Christ the Lord. You clothed Your Son with human flesh so that he might be our Saviour. Amen.
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