Who's My Neighbor? A Biblical Call To Love Others

Devotional

More than just thoughts and prayers


Lee Copeland


Whenever tragedy strikes today, we hear and see in an endless refrain, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.” Have you ever thought about that? Have you ever been in a place of suffering, where life is so broken that it seems nothing will ever be whole again? If so, the platitude of “thoughts and prayers” rings empty. Distant.


I’ve come to believe that empty words, platitudes, and rituals are insufficient to bring comfort when worlds are shattered, and hearts are broken. When the night is darkest, empty words only increase the isolation and magnify the pain. God’s people felt isolated in exile. Ripped from their homes and all that was familiar. Without identity or hope. They turned to words and rituals in the hope of finding comfort. They were frantic in their application of “thoughts and prayers” and cried out, wondering why things had not improved.


God answered with finality. He was seeking a different response to the pain of humanity, more than just “thoughts and prayers.” God wanted them to be PRESENT in the MIDST of suffering. To be actively engaged in what God is doing in the world. Repairing. Restoring.


Here’s where that gets tricky for us. We can’t participate with God in the world by just offering “thoughts and prayers.” We have to get hands-on and face-to-face with suffering. We’re asked to be a tangible presence where there is injustice, hunger, homelessness, and oppression. Restoration is never accomplished simply through cognitive awareness or spiritual focus. It is always embodied in skin and flesh. Restoration is costly.


Still not sure? Think about how restoration and redemption came to us: Through skin and flesh that came among us, experiencing our brokenness and our God-forsaken places. Want to see God moving? Stop offering “thoughts and prayers” and be willing to wade into injustice and darkness. Here’s why engaging with brokenness matters: It will be in those places that we will see and hear God. “THEN you will call and the LORD will answer;  you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”