When Thoughts and Prayers Aren’t Enough

Acts of Service

You’ve probably been there. I know I have.  With the way 2020 and 2021 have been, you may be there right now.  Rough times. Really rough moments. Times when our own knees are worn from praying and we may also actively ask others to pray for us, knowing God hears (I Peter 3:12).

From a burned down house to a cancer diagnosis.  Extreme stress, depression, an ill child, a difficult birth in progress, a serious accident, a lost job, liquidated business, an unjust arrest or accusation, an abusive relationship, the death of a loved one, or an unsure crossroads. Trials, tests and stressful situations are part of our journey on this earth (1 Peter 4:12).

They are meant to teach us, to test us, to enable us to learn, gain deeper faith, and develop greater empathy for others around us.  Empathy involving not just prayer, but also acts of fellowship, kindness and love as we are able.

This last part is an easy miss.  Really easy.  Not only is getting caught up in our own worries without regard for others a typical selfish human tendency, but with the rise of social media, appearing kind or the Good Samaritan is possible at just the tap of a key or two.

When scrolling through personal feeds on a social media platform, we are going to come across posts from time to time describing someone’s trial or stresses.  On the spur of the moment, we’ll decide we know just what to do.  So we do it. We quickly place our cursor in the right space and type out “thoughts and prayers,” and then carry on flicking through the feed.  Maybe that’s all we do if it’s not family or the close friends.

OK, maybe we do even offer up a quick prayer on their behalf at that moment. And don’t get me wrong. We should do that. It’s an excellent thing to do, but is it enough?

A person can feel very alone during a severe trial. Even a minor one.  True, sometimes we aren’t in a position to do more than get on our knees and pray. Sometimes we aren’t sure the need is genuine or we don’t feel we know the person well enough to respond personally.  And prayer is of immense value.  It is priceless.  God does hear us and He understands if this is all we can give.  For some of us, it may even be the widow’s mite.

But if we can make a difference beyond prayer, and we know the situation is a legitimate one, we should.  Not just by throwing money at a generic charity.  But also flowers, cards, groceries, visits, phone calls, meals, gifts of whatever may be needed or towards a need.  Some things can even be arranged online if we’re far away.  It may just be $5 on a GoFundMe page if that’s all we have to give.

Some needs may be ongoing.  A long recovery emotionally or physically.  A serious health condition. A job hunt.  Broken hearts, bodies and lives don’t heal overnight.

It means more than we think – more to the receiver and more to our own relationship with God – to take action when we are able.  Our loving Father takes note of what we do and do not do as does our Lord Jesus Christ.  We don’t want to be the person who just says to the cold and hungry (figuratively or literally): “Be warmed and filled” and does nothing  else when we have the ability to do more. (James 2:16)

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