By Deanne Baum
The suffering of others can evoke strong feelings of anguish. For me, it was children and those most vulnerable in society. Perhaps you feel the same way? Maybe you are wondering what you could personally do to help those who suffer whether from poverty, violence, abuse, homelessness, war, displacement, or whatever the cause.
I used to feel utterly useless in helping to ease the suffering of others. I would become distressed in not knowing their specific circumstances. The TV nightly news gravely inadequate. So much so I would cry, feel helpless and frustrated, even angry and depressed. Feeling these emotions was one thing but acting on them, was quite another. Being compassionate is a good thing but how to go from realizing there is a problem to being part of the solution is a huge chasm.
While a picture may be worth a thousand words, actions speak louder than words. For me, there is no other example so astonishingly compelling than that of Jesus Christ. Indeed, the Bible states “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written”. (John 21:25) Thankfully, we have been given enough in the Bible to base our lives on Christ’s marvelous example to others.
Can we help every single person in the world? Maybe not physically or financially. But there is good news! Spiritually we can always help. We can pray to God who will hear our prayers (1 Peter 3:12). Go to the Father in prayer every day and make your prayers heartfelt and specific as each account of suffering becomes known to you. Pour out your heart and tell Him you may not understand why there is so much suffering in the world, but that you trust Him to hear your prayers and intervene in each specific situation, whatever that means.
Ask God to show you how to help others who are suffering. This is the first step. What God revealed to me was that I needed to be willing, look to Him and He would direct my way (Isaiah 6:8). That way was to pray with faith and belief (Matthew 19:26) and to help in using my talents. What are you talented at? If you are creative perhaps you can get a small group together to make useful items to send to others? Warm woolen items of clothing, soft knitted toys, a crocheted blanket, among many other things of comfort. God will show you opportunities by having certain situations come up in front of you wherever you reside so that you have a choice to take part in these. Willingness is all that is needed. We may be able to do more locally in a physical sense and we can always pray for help from God on a global scale.
We shouldn’t feel helpless. The suffering of others can paralyze us or motivate us. Be the change to others around you by setting a positive, uplifting example. Be like Christ. Be Christ like.