Interrupt Your Suffering by Serving Others

{I am honored that Lauri Hogle agreed to co-author this week’s post, and I’m simply ecstatic to be able to offer you access to her weekly devotionals and playlists. Lauri is a Christian blogger and music therapist who writes about “singing Christ’s hope into your suffering.” I was introduced to Lauri and her posts as part of Flourish Writers and was instantly drawn to her use of music to interrupt our suffering with worship and focus instead on praising God. Each week, along with her devotional blog posts, she offers prayerfully selected playlists to encourage worshiping God even in our suffering. I hope you’ll take time to visit her site and sign up for her weekly emails. I know the scripture and song choices will bless you as they have me, and we can join together in interrupting our suffering by worshiping God}.

Image Credit: Christianbook.com

I have a radical idea – what if we interrupt our suffering by worshiping God?

And what if that worship came in the form of serving others?

Totally crazy, right?

Maybe not.

What did Jesus tell us was the second most important commandment?  He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31

The Greek word Jesus used for love was “agapao” – it’s a verb, an action, meaning you DO something.  You live out this love.

Let’s live out our love. Let’s interrupt our suffering by focusing on others.

Literally take our attention off our own challenges and struggles and focus on the needs of someone else.  This is a godly way to persevere through suffering.  This is also a way to worship God: love other people.  Meet their needs.  Be God’s hands and feet…even as we’re dealing with our own tests and trials.

Does serving others guarantee our pain will go away?

Unfortunately not.

Does putting the needs of others before our own needs exempt us from future suffering?

It doesn’t.

Then why should we do it?

Because God commanded us to, in Leviticus 19:18b, “…You shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.”

Because Jesus echoed this command during his earthly ministry (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31).

Image Credit: Revelation Culture

And because Jesus and other figures from the Bible lived this out.  They modeled for us how to serve others during a time of suffering.

Remember Jesus washing his disciples’ feet mere hours before his brutal death?  (See John 13:1-20)

Then, remember him making provisions with his disciple John for his mother, Mary’s long-term care even as Jesus was hanging on the cross?  (John 19:26-27)

The widow of Zarephath served the prophet Elijah even though she thought she and her son were starving to death during a drought.  The widow and her son were gathering sticks to make a fire to use the last flour and oil they had in their house to make bread.  When Elijah approached and asked for food, the widow told him that she planned to use up the remaining food in her house and then die with her son (she thought they would starve to death because there was a drought in the land and they had no way of getting more food).  Elijah gave her a word from the LORD: if she would serve Elijah during her suffering as God was calling her to, her flour and oil wouldn’t run out until God sent the rain. She submitted to God’s will and helped Elijah even as she and her son were starving.  (Read the whole story in 1 Kings 17:8-24

Image Credit: Instagram

Joseph’s story, in the book of Genesis, also illustrates interrupting personal suffering to meet the needs of other people.  As a youth, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers (Genesis 37:18-28).  He ended up in Egypt working in the house of a man named Potifar.  Because God was with Joseph, everything Joseph did was successful, so Potifar prospered as a result.  Unfortunately, the young man suffered again at the hands of his master’s wife who tried to seduce him then falsely accused him of attempted rape when he refused her advances.  His master believed his wife’s allegations and had Joseph thrown in jail (Genesis 39:1-23). While Joseph suffered under false imprisonment, he served others who were jailed with him by correctly interpreting their dreams; for one of his fellow inmates, he provided comfort in the knowledge that the man’s time in prison was about to end.  Joseph was still suffering in prison when he was asked to serve Pharoah . When Joseph correctly interpreting Pharoah’s dreams, Joseph won freedom from jail (Genesis 41:1-56).

The story of Ruth provides more proof that it is possible to serve others while you are experiencing pain and heartache of your own.  Even though Ruth’s husband died, she continued to care for her mother-in-law, Naomi, remaining in Naomi’s home rather than returning to her (Ruth’s) parents.  Eventually, Ruth moved with Naomi away from her (Ruth’s) homeland and returned to Naomi’s hometown (Ruth 1:1-19). There, Ruth continued to minister to her widowed mother-in-law by gathering grain from the fields in the area so she and Naomi would have food (Ruth 2:2-3).

Image Credit: More Precious Blog

You see, God has already given us everything we need to pull ourselves out of our suffering: the mandate to love our neighbors as ourselves, and godly examples in His Word of people who served while they suffered, even His own Son, Jesus Christ.

Talk to God today about your suffering.  Ask Him to show you the needs of people around you, people who are hurting.  Ask Him to give you the strength to help those people even though you are also in need of help.  Ask Him to help you interrupt your suffering by serving Him.  He is faithful to hear you and to answer your prayers. 

Image Credit: Walk Upon Waters blog

To Heather’s words, I add this, as one who is so often physically ill and then riddled with feelings of guilt when I want to serve and help others but don’t have the physical capacity to care for others’ needs well. 

How can I wash the hands and feet of others if my body isn’t working? How can I keep going in moments when I’m physically weary from my current season of continual caregiving for others?

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10 ESV).

By His indwelling Spirit, we can walk in His perfectly planned good works, beloved. 

He answered my desperate prayers…with the answer of “prayer!” At my sickest, this flip calendar prayer helped me:

Deliver me Lord, from the snare of self-pity

the lie that I’m no longer a value

Remind me that when I’m unable to work,

I can still be of use …

I can pray … I can praise … I can be.

I can pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ continually, as serving the Lord:

keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (Eph. 6:18 ESV);

asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Col. 1:9 ESV).

I can pray for those who do not know Jesus or who are hurting me:

love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Mt. 5:44 ESV).

I can pray for this suffering to be a time of new learning and sharing the gospel with others:

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect (I Pet. 3:15 ESV).

Beloved in Christ, let’s all serve and honor our Lord, by loving others, in and through our suffering this week. How can we best do so? Let’s pray and ask Him to help us, the One who has already prepared us for good works during this time of suffering.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (I Thess. 5: 16-18 ESV).

This week’s playlist gives us words to pray, as we seek the Lord’s help and wisdom about how to serve God, especially in today’s suffering. If praying through song would bless and help you, this playlist is for you. You can sign up to receive it in your email at https://laurihogle.com.

One thought on “Interrupt Your Suffering by Serving Others

  1. Pingback: Interrupt Our Suffering by Serving Others in Love * Singing Christ's Hope

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