There’s an old saying that goes something like, “If we all got together and put our troubles in a pile, each of us would go home with our own.” I’m remembering that story’s details poorly but the idea is sound. While we fret and complain about our troubles, they are distinctively ours (in God’s economy of course) and so we are uniquely qualified to deal with them. But it’s still good for us to hear about those that affect others.
Modern life is fast and complicated and our lives have many, many moving pieces. Put one kitten in a room and corral it. No problem. Now try this with 10. That is a snapshot of our lives.
We all probably have a list of what we expect can go wrong in a given day. We don’t expect the car to break down because we just spent $1,000 on it. It’s summer so no one should be getting a cold. We think our job is secure because of that last positive review we had.
And then life attacks!
And we lose hope or get mildly depressed and wonder what God is doing. “If He loves me, why did the dishwasher break?” Living in a fallen world comes with its normal struggles and add to that equation the fact that our God is working on us, molding us, sanding down the rough spots to turn our hearts back to Him. Being sanded down can sting a bit.
One of God’s built-in salves that we can use to make our boo boo’s better is talking with others, sharing their daily frustrations, stresses and perplexing issues. And then praying for them.
It’s helpful to have meaningful talks with others to find out what’s really happening in their lives. Praying through the church list or for missionaries on a regular basis is great, but there is something doubly great about being able to focus on the daily needs of those we know the best. And few people put “out there” the stuff that’s really on their minds and hearts.
First, it draws us together. Listening is a great way to improve a relationship and then praying for them helps us both better understand that person and ourselves. We get to see how another deals with life’s struggles. That can be a teaching aid in either direction, watching them deal with it biblically or otherwise. And then hopefully helping with that.
Praying for them makes it easier to pray for ourselves. We might feel more inclined to bring the small things before our God if we are doing so for a friend. And isn’t it the “small things” that combine to muck up our thinking?
In the automobile world, we get our tires realigned because one of them is subtly but persistently pulling us in the wrong direction. Life can do that for us if our thoughts are not properly aligned with God’s.
If we are in the habit of praying for others, of finding out the difficulties that they are dealing with, it helps put our own lives into perspective. And we share our lives with them and we are all in this together. Talking with others about their troubles also opens our eyes to the possibilities of life. We’ll find ourselves less surprised by a sinful world and how God uses it all to refine us and make us more like Jesus.