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“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7)

The most physical pain I’ve ever endured was the open heart surgery for the quadruple bypass. A couple of days after the surgery, they gave me a pillow and told me to squeeze the pillow while coughing because the only way to open up the lungs that had been collapsed to allow the surgeon access to my heart was for me to start coughing. That day, the pain was overwhelming. I was exhausted from the pain and I started feeling pretty sorry for myself and soon found myself going down the “Woe is me trail.”

Why? Why me? Why now? Why this?

Ever been there?

The doc had me getting out of bed to walk within hours of the surgery. I was told if I could make it around the floor three times by myself I would be able to go home.

That day, I was able to walk down the hall way for the first time. During that walk I noticed that in the room right next to me the patient’s family had gathered because he had suffered a massive heart attack and wasn’t going to make it through the night. Then the person in the room next to him was an older patient who didn’t look like he was going to make it after his heart failure.

During that walk, I realized how pathetic I must have looked. Here was the pastor guy complaining about pain when the people around me were dying! I knew I woulds soon walk out of that hospital to continue living my life. These people wouldn’t be so fortunate. So every four hours when the nurses got me out of bed to walk, I started praying for the people in those rooms and their family members, as I passed by their rooms.

That changed everything. I was so grateful for a second chance at life. I was thankful that I had the privilege to watch my kids grow into adulthood, to continue pastoring and serving God. By taking the focus off me to the people around me, I went from a pity party to gratitude.

In every one of our neighborhoods, there are people facing heartbreakingly difficult situations – there are marriages that are hanging on by a thread, parents worrying about their children who have gone astray, people who are wondering how they are going to get their next meal, people struggling with addictions.

God has placed us in our neighborhoods to be the ones who stand in the gap between hope and despair to pray for our neighbors. That’s what Christians do. Christians love their neighbors.

This is needed now more than ever. As you walk around your neighborhood, take a good look at the homes around you and pray God’s grace and mercy on your neighbors. Stand in the gap between hope and despair as you pray for God’s guidance and provision for your neighbors and be God’s agents of blessing for your neighborhood.

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).

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