Every Sunday I stand before you and see your faces for 40 minutes or more. I see a lot; body language that is sometimes open and sometimes closed. I see facial expressions which reveal a great deal. Some I can read like a book. Others are harder to decipher.
There is one thing that is often unmistakable. I see it quite clearly in body language and faces. It is hard to hide. Some walk in, sit, listen, and then walk out without ever being noticed by others. What is it I see so often in these? Pain.
Do you ever notice the pain in others when you come to worship on Sunday morning?
There may be a number of reasons you don’t notice. For instance, if you’re not particularly looking for the pain in others you may simply miss it. Perhaps you used to be in pain yourself, but things are better now. You are drawn to the people who are joyful and happy on Sunday mornings. You want to forget your pain.
Another reason you may not notice is you are presently in pain yourself. There may be things in your life that are very, very difficult that you really don't want to share with others. You may have frustrations, anger or guilt from personal failure. You’ve been deeply hurt. You need someone to encourage you.
I think one of the greatest reasons we don’t notice those who are in pain is that we are in just too big of a hurry on Sunday mornings. We’re on our own personal schedule.
At the close of the letter to the Ephesians, Paul said, “Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts.”
Tychicus was sent to comfort. There were some in the church who were downhearted, and Tychicus was to comfort their hearts. The word comfort literally means “to call to one’s side.” It’s a word we can quite easily picture: There is someone sitting in the auditorium on Sunday morning. Her face is drawn, his shoulders are slumped. You, or someone else, comes alongside them, puts an arm on their shoulder and asks quite simply, “How can I pray for you?”—and then prays.
You can do this; we all can. We are to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). I know life is busy, but come early, sit and pray. Look around. Take notice of those who may be in need of encouragement.
• Remember your own time of pain. If you have been through a time of difficulty, how did others bring comfort to you? What did they say, what did they do? Make it your goal to pass on to others what you have graciously received.
• If things are going well for you right now, remember that your time of pain will come. When your time comes, what would you want? How would you want to be comforted?
• Ask God to give you eyes to see the pain of others. If we want to go deeper in our relationship with God, we need to go deeper with each other. Ask Him to allow you to see beyond your own pain. The best time to reach out to others is when we ourselves are hurting. A shift from self-focus to others is always the way of Christ. We are most valuable to others when we are most broken. Ask God for eyes to see.