An Intercessor’s Heart
Everyone experiences difficulties in life. It can be the loss of a job, an illness that never seems to end, a broken marriage and a broken heart, not being able to make ends meet, a physical or verbal attack by a friend or a stranger, the devastation of a natural disaster, and the list goes on. But the greatest tragedy is that all of these difficulties and trials have shattered hope.
When we go through some difficulty and then we finally reach the end of it, we can respond is different ways. One way is to be happy for ourselves and try to just put it all behind us, never thinking of the difficulty again. Another is to not be able to get over it, to remain bitter and resentful that we had to go through this trial at all, never giving thanks for the restoration we have experienced.
A third way we can respond is to rejoice that we have made it through with the help of God, but to never forget how it felt to be in the midst of that trial. This third response helps to develop an intercessor’s heart filled with empathy. This is the response I have chosen in response to the many trials I have faced in life. God has used this response to develop in me an intercessor’s heart with the desire to pray for others who are going through trials of their own.
I recently learned of the ongoing struggles of a fellow Christian on the Third Day Connect website, which involved several of these difficulties all at once. I don’t know this woman, but my heart went out to her and I wanted to help. But I have no way of helping her except to pray. And so pray I have, primarily that God will restore her hope, which seems to have been shattered into a billion little pieces by the weight of her troubles.
I doubt her story is all that unique. Many struggle because the weight of life has shattered their hope. I know I can’t restore their hope, but I know the One who can. The devil would like God’s people to drown in their trials, but God has promised to restore hope to those who believe.
I have a wooden sculpture of the word “Hope” that I got at the Relay for Life. I sat it on top of a picture in my bathroom and it fell to the floor and broke into many pieces. My son tried to glue it back together using Elmer’s glue, wood glue, and a hot glue gun, but pieces still keep falling off. It will never be the same. I actually bought a new one at Relay for Life this year to replace it, but I keep both on the windowsill in my bedroom as a reminder of hope shattered and hope restored.
The apostle Peter wrote about weathering trials and the promise that God will restore hope:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:6-10.
Peter’s reminder that other believers are “undergoing the same kind of sufferings” led me to another thought. What if, instead of waiting until after we have been restored from our trials to intercede for others in prayer, we also prayed for others undergoing the exact same trials we are undergoing right now?
- What if, as you looked at a pile of bills you didn’t have the means to pay, you stopped to intercede for all those around the world who were also struggling to make ends meet?
- What if, as you sat in the clinic chair undergoing weekly chemotherapy for cancer, you prayed for the many who had just received their diagnosis or who were facing surgery to remove a tumor?
- What if, as you sat in your living room in shock that your spouse had left you or cheated on you, you cried out to God for all the broken hearts and failing marriages across the nation?
- What if, as you surveyed the damage to your house from fire, tornado, or flood in disbelief that it could all be destroyed, you interceded with our Father for the many who lost all their worldly possessions?
- What if, sitting in the front pew at your loved one’s memorial service, you shed a tear for those sitting around you and at memorial services throughout the world?
What if we used our pain and suffering to care for others in pain? How would that change us? How would that change them? Would it give God an opening to restore hope to a people that desperately need it? I believe it would. And I believe it would strengthen the intercessor’s heart in all of us. Will you choose to join me in this intercessory endeavor? I hope so.
As I read your post, I was so inspired to pray and I thank God for using you to bring me to my knees once again. When I hear of people suffering, I rejoice in it because God gives us the opportunity to show He lives and we get to show how we can love and care because He loves us. Suffering is an integral part of our faith walk and we need to praise God for our suffering as much as for His blessings. It was through suffering that we are saved and it is through suffering that we will continue to grow in Him because our faith is built up and our love for Him grows. Jesus said that in this life, we will face persecution and I praise God that He finds me worthy of suffering for His namesake.
Vineet, Our outlook on suffering can make all the difference. Yours is encouraging and inspiring. Peace, Linda
It can actually help you ease the pain and heal faster. If I don’t have yet what I want (which I’m not sure He wants too for me) there’s no problem if others have it first (is it actually through my prayers?)
I heart this post and you Linda! 🙂
So true, praying for others can ease our own pain and help us to heal. As we take our focus off ourselves and put it on what Christ wants to do, we are blessed beyond measure. I heart you, too! 🙂 Peace, Linda
I visited a congregation this afternoon … the focus of the sermon was how to truly love. “True love is not self-centered and has nothing to do with how I feel”. So despite the things that are happening to me, I can still pray for others, especially for those who don’t know Him.
Many thanks for the reminder/confirmation/poke in the side. 😉
Ann, I like the concept that love is an action verb, not just a feeling. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, that action was the ultimate example of love. Feelings come and go, but true love never dies. Peace, Linda
I like how you kept the broken Hope sign as a reminder. Good idea 🙂
Eden, It is also a reminder of how hard my son worked to try to put it back together, and what a good heart he has because of his relationship with Christ. 🙂 Peace, Linda
This really resonated with me. It is kind of like the other day, when God highlighted the fact that the Israelites began sacrificing while in the wilderness. I often want to help and do more for others than I actually can, in my situation. But, I can pray for them. God bless you, Linda!
Deb, I think sometimes we feel like “all we can do” is pray, but really prayer is the best and first thing we should always do. In our time of prayer God might lead us to help in other ways, but prayer is the means by which we call on the power of God. Peace, Linda