Think about the last time you were going through a tough time in your life. What were the most helpful things that people said or did?
For me, it was after I had my daughter. We had just moved to Hawaii, far away from family and friends. I was a newly minted stay-at-home mom of a newborn. And I was isolated, lonely, and depressed.
When I finally started opening up to my closest friends about how I was feeling, the response was incredible. Yes, of course they said they’d pray for me (and without a doubt they did, and their prayers made a difference), but they also took action.
It wasn’t a dismissive: “I’ll pray for you, but I’m too busy to actually help.”
Or a scared: “I’ll pray for you, but your problem is too big for me to deal with.”
Or a harsh: “I’ll pray for you, but you really need to just get over it.”
It was the friend who committed to weekly Face Time sessions with me so that we could both feel like we weren’t quite so far away.
It was the friend who recommended a Bible study and offered to have weekly study sessions with me.
It was the friend who listened as I cried on the phone, pouring out my heart and my hurts.
Did I mention that each of these women was thousands of miles away from me? And that they each have families, lives, and ministries. These are busy women who stopped what they were doing and took time to live life with me.
When it would’ve been easier to say “I’ll pray for you” and hang up the phone, they chose to get into the muck and mire of my depression and pull me out. They chose to get dirty when it would’ve been easier not to.
They chose to be Jesus’ hands and feet.
They said: “I’ll not only pray for you, I’ll live this with you. How can I help you? I’m willing to sacrifice my time, energy, and comfort for your well-being. Let’s live this messy, difficult, beautiful life together.”
This is what it means to be Jesus’ hands and feet.
Praying is so, so important, and we absolutely should pray. But, after we pray, we should also take action.
I believe that God wants to use us to be blessings for other people, in His name. We just have to be willing to step out in faith.
Just to be clear: The issue here isn’t at all with prayer. Prayer is absolutely the most important thing we can do. Rather, the issue is with saying the words, “I’ll pray for you” without being willing to do anything else. The issue is the excuses we make to avoid going out of our comfort zones to help others. The issue is not being willing to be used by God to serve others.
When the crowds came to Jesus for food and healing did He say, “I’ll pray for you” and then walk away? No, He took action. He fed them. He healed them. He touched the man with leprosy. He stood toe to toe with demons to save a life. He defended the sinful woman from the Pharisees.
Jesus wasn’t dismissive, scared, or harsh.
He was bold, brave, loving, and fearless.
I want to be bold, brave, loving, and fearless.
I want to be like Jesus.
If we want to be like Christ, we have to start living out our faith. Not from the comfort of our own living rooms but in the world with those who are suffering.
So what can we do, in addition to praying, to help others during difficult times? Here are just a few ideas:
Provide rides to doctors’ appointments. If your friend is ill, take her to her doctor appointments. Wait with her, comfort her. Don’t turn away from her discomfort.
Go grocery shopping. Provide food and necessities to someone who isn’t able to make it to the grocery store or who can’t afford it at the moment.
Cleaning house. This one is for all the new moms out there. People tend to want to come over and hold our babies. What would be super helpful instead would be for people to come over and wash dishes or do laundry so that we can take a nap with our little ones.
Cooking. Make regular meals for someone who is ill, just had a baby, or is otherwise unable to cook for herself.
Babysitting. If you know a couple whose marriage is in a difficult place, offer to watch their children so they can have some time together, just the two of them. Or maybe you know a mom who just needs an hour or two on her own to regain her sanity.
One on one Bible study. If you have a friend who is struggling in her faith or wants to build a deeper relationship with the Lord, meet with her weekly. Disciple her. Live out Titus 2.
Regular phone calls or video chats. If you’re far away and can’t be there to physically help, commit to spending time weekly to pour into your hurting friend.
Go for walks together. Simply spend time together. Sometimes just being there and being willing to listen is more than enough.
Share about yourself. Be willing to open up. Let go of the “perfect Christian” façade and be willing to share your struggles and faults. Let your friend know she’s not alone.
Possibly the most important one: Ask your friend what she needs! How can I help? Be ready and willing to follow through.
If you feel like whatever you have to offer is inadequate or that you have no idea how to help just do something! God will equip you. He will multiply whatever small offering you have for someone in need. He will use you to bless many, you need only be willing.
It’s time to start being bold, brave, loving, and fearless in living out our faith with others. It’s time to start living an authentic life in Christ. It’s time to become more like Jesus.
Will you join me in living out an authentic faith? Keep praying, and then commit to reaching out to someone in need today! Provide a meal, grab a cup of coffee and settle in for deep conversation, make a phone call. Just do something!