There are many examples today of how people have gone to extremes to experience even in a small way the plight of their fellow man. As the saying goes, they are attempting to walk a mile in the shoes of another.
Some of these stories are: the man who darkens his skin to experience racism, the girl who wears a fat suit to experience discrimination, the college student who spends a night on the street with the homeless to experience deprivation, the pastor who on Sunday morning disguises himself as a disheveled visitor to see whether his congregation reaches out to him with compassion, the CEO who goes undercover to perform menial tasks alongside his employees in order to experience the hard toil of their work day, and a teacher who goes without food for a weekend so she can experience what it is like for many of her students who go hungry when school is out and they are unable to get their free breakfast and lunch. It is not as easy to duplicate the circumstances or to put yourself in the place of one whose life is ruled and controlled by mental and emotional turmoil.
It is hard to conceptualize the depth of control these struggles have over every aspect of their lives. A few of the areas of their lives that are dramatically effected on a daily basis are their self-image, relationships, moods, finances, emotions, health, self-esteem and ability to function. It is impossible to replicate the all consuming feelings of loneliness, alienation, isolation, disconnect, depression and despair. To attempt to feel their pain we must first have a real heart’s desire to walk through the pain with them. We must be willing to ask ourselves – How can I make a difference? We have to make an effort to express to them that we may not fully understand but we want to be there for them in their need. We need to ask ourselves – How would I feel in this situation? And what would I want someone to do for me?
Some of the most important things we can do for those who are hurting are to: follow through, do what we say we’re going to do and be who we say we’re going to be. Empty promises do more damage than not helping at all because they only reinforce in the sufferer the feelings that they are an imposition, they are too needy, they require too much time and they are too damaged to be a priority in anyone’s life.
We can’t afford to be indifferent to those who are hurting, struggling and suffering all around us. Our perfect model is Jesus Christ who came to earth and lived completely as a man and experienced every hurt, pain, emotion, and rejection that we will ever experience but He spent His time reaching out to, ministering to, and loving the disenfranchised. The example He set was as the Suffering Servant.
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God, a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant…” Philippians 2:5-7 (NAS)
Reflections on WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES
How can we live our lives with the genuine sensitivity of God in the midst of the busy and chaotic world in which we live? I truly long to be the hands and feet of Jesus and have a heart like His that saw those others ignored. Yet I must confess that too often I get caught up in the urgent instead of the important and the promptings of the Holy Spirit are subdued beneath my To Do list. The needs around us can be overwhelming and yet, when we are sensitive to God’s Spirit and spending time daily with Him in prayer and Bible study, it is amazing how much clarity can evolve. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”
As I write these words today, writing was not on my To Do list. It was crowded with working for a living and preparing for a church event tonight that also has eternal significance. Yet, God’s Spirit prompted me today to spend time with my dear friend and the result is this writing. I am learning to trust God that when He leads me away from my To Do list and into His plan, that He will bless and multiply my time so that all the tasks that need to be accomplished will get done. I am also learning that not everything on My To Do list is also on God’s “list” for me!
What is God asking you to release to Him today to allow time for you to walk life’s journey and lift up a brother or sister who needs your encouragement? Trust Him. He will enable you to do whatever He is calling you to do.
Just release your list and your desires to Him and follow His leading. You will be glad that you did!
Prayer for the hurting person:
Please help this one who is feeling isolated and dependent on others to be able to know deep in her heart that You care for her. Please bring people alongside her who are willing to put action into their promises and good intentions. Please guide her to supportive friends who will help lift her up, not pull her down. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Prayer for the helper:
Please help guide my thoughts and my words so that I will not make promises to others that I cannot or will not choose to fulfill later on. Please help me to be sensitive to the needs of others and to be willing to be inconvenienced or sacrifice to be Your hands and feet in situations where You are leading me to make an eternal difference in the life of a hurting person. Please change my heart so that I will be less selfish and more giving to others. Please help me tune into Your voice and the guidance of Your Holy Spirit.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.