Years ago, one of the ladies in the Bible study I attended suffered a miscarriage. It had been her first pregnancy, and she was devastated. As you can imagine, this affected every area of her life and was causing a lot of stress. So we prayed for her as a group, and then you know what I did when she and I walked out together? Nothing. We had light conversation about something random, and then I made a joke as we parted ways and headed to our cars.
Of course I cracked a joke, because that’s what I do. But guess what I was thinking? Tell her that you’re there if she wants to talk… Reach out and hug her… Pray with her again before she leaves. Yet I did none of those things. In fact, I never brought the subject up again with her because I didn’t know how to start the conversation without making her sad. I was so concerned I would upset her that I avoided it entirely.
I’ve always been super awkward in emotional situations. Most of the time, I didn’t have the right words. And even when I did, my brain wouldn’t let them come out because I just felt so uncomfortable in the moment. My preference was to ignore them altogether. Sure, I found workarounds to show my support without experiencing discomfort, like sending a text or card. Sometimes I even managed to get out the four words, “I’m praying for you.”
But I knew I needed to do better.
So I began praying about being bolder with others. I needed to go deeper than surface level, deeper than a “you’re in my thoughts and prayers” text. Candidly, I’m not even sure I knew how important it was at the time. I just knew I needed to put on my big girl pants and stop being so selfish about my comfort zone.
It’s been a slow process, but the Lord has been answering that prayer…
He started bringing people to me in their time of need.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:24-25
Praise God that He put me in a role in my former job where people often came to me for professional advice. As time passed, they also started opening up about personal matters. Wide open door, Traci – step through it! I remember the first time I offered to pray with someone in my office. Nervous and nearly positive I’d say the wrong thing, I was pleasantly surprised as I just about watched the weight fall from her shoulders when I finished praying. She came back the next week happier and full of hope, and we prayed together again before she left.
Over the next several years, many others would walk out of my office after prayers and tears shed together. One friend in particular came by often. Dealing with cancer, he was in a hard place. To look at him, I would say his faith was shaken, and he was about as discouraged as anyone I’d ever known. I had never walked through anything life-threatening with another human, and my flesh wanted to avoid the elephant in the room when he came in and sat down. But this time I didn’t run away from the voice I heard – I pressed in and cried with him, listened to him as he told me his struggles and fears.
This friend, who’d traveled to foreign countries on mission to serve others, was tired. And the Lord used me in that season the way He used Aaron and Hur to hold the arms of Moses when he was no longer steady enough to hold them up on his own. As Exodus 17:12 tells us, they brought Moses a stone for him to sit on, and they held up his arms to keep them stable until the sun went down. And you know what happens in verse 13? The enemy is defeated. All because these soldiers stuck together in a time of desperate need.
Through this, I realized that it’s not just about being nice or saying something comforting. It’s about staying on the hill with the person until that soldier is back on his or her feet. Ephesians 6:1 tells us to be strong in the Lord…but what happens when we have lost our strength? That’s where the rest of chapter 6 is essential for survival, describing the armor we are to put on that protects us in the fight against our enemy’s attacks. On a good day, we can wear our battle shoes of peace and wield our sword of the Spirit using God’s Word as a weapon. But listen here friends, when those around you are going through rough times, there’s a chance their armor is not fastened securely. Maybe they’ve taken off those shoes and sat down on the rock, weary and drained.
Then He brought people to me in my time of need.
Earlier this year, I lost my strength when my dad passed away. It shook my world and showed me what the darkness felt like that I had prayed others through. Even though I still felt the presence of God, I lost my fight for a time. Not only was I sitting down on the battlefield, but I could almost feel each piece of armor dropping around me. I had a hard time holding up my shield of faith, and I completely set down the sword, unable to even open my Bible for several months.
But hallelujah for my Aarons and Hurs! They called and checked on me. They stopped to ask how I was dealing with things instead of just walking past at church. They prayed with me and poured Scripture into me and held my arms up until I could get back into my battle shoes.
Oh, how I wonder what would’ve happened if Moses had been alone on that hill!
Hear me carefully when I say this: My friends didn’t fix my pain. They didn’t save me, just like I didn’t solve the problems of my friend walking through cancer. Only Jesus can do that. As soldiers, we just help hold each other up while the Lord does His work, as we see in Exodus 17.
I’m reminded of a beautiful song that has become my anthem these days…
You go before I know
That You’ve gone to win my war
You come back with the head of my enemy
You come back and You call it my victory…
…You picked up all my pieces
Put me back together
You are the defender of my heart
It’s not my job to be someone else’s savior, but if my friend is walking in darkness, I am called to shed some light. If she’s in the pit while I’m on high ground at the moment, how could I claim to love Christ – thereby loving His children – if I just walked away and left her there?
If you really look into your heart, I think you’ll realize that what scares you is not how your comment or question will make the other person feel – the fear is in how it will make you feel… nervous, unprepared, embarrassed. So deal with it. My natural tendency is still to run away from the situation, to be completely honest with you. Boy, do I just want to stick to the jokes! But we aren’t supposed to – nor are we able to – fight battles alone, and I have seen firsthand (from both sides of the field) how He absolutely uses us to meet the needs of others when they are at their lowest.
Even the strongest of soldiers get weak. Life on this earth is hard; and according to 1 Peter 5:8, the enemy is prowling around trying to devour as many of us as he can. Trials can zap our zest for Jesus and cause us to sit in the corner – worrying, mourning, or even doubting.
So ask the hard questions. Start the conversation and just be awkward through it. They won’t always walk right into your office. Sometimes they put on the pretty face and smile through the pain. Many of them show off perfect marriages that are crumbling behind closed doors. If their armor is down, you can be sure they are at their most vulnerable. But strength returns as you take a stand for your people, and the enemy cowers away without a fighting chance.
Victory on the battlefield.
I’m Traci Jones – married to my college sweetheart, raising three rambunctious teens, and still acting like a kid myself. I’m a blogger and artist – I love to use my artistic gifts to fund raise for worthy causes, and I’m passionate about using my writing to encourage and motivate others to find their joy in Jesus. My favorite place on earth is Zambia, Africa, and I’m always looking forward to my family’s next trip back to see the beautiful faces I’ve come to know and love there!