Not only has the coronavirus disrupted the lives of most people in China this year, there have also been several natural disasters that have caused extensive havoc. Flooding in southern China this summer displaced millions of people and destroyed property. In this article from The Christian Times, the author calls on Christians to pray for those who are enduring much suffering this season.
Christians, Lift Up Your Hands, and Offer Prayers of Intercession for Suffering People!
God is all-mighty. He is in control of all things in the world, and all things are of him, through him, and for him. So, in the face of disaster, we need to seek him.
Passage: 1 Corinthians 12:26-27: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
This year is definitely an unusual year. First was the pandemic, then the floods, causing everyone to be weary in body and soul, inflicting huge damage upon each affected family. Their losses are beyond our comprehension. Disasters engulf us one after another, depriving us and threatening to squeeze us of every drop of strength. Though the disasters are relentless, people are not heartless. When we see the destroyed houses of the families affected by disaster, and the lives robbed, we cannot remain unmoved, as if seeing nothing strange. Instead, we shed tears, and our hearts grieve for them.
As a northerner serving grassroot churches, I see the disasters occurring in the south—many people have lost their farms, houses and loved ones; they’ve become homeless with nothing to their names, and my heart is unsettled. What if these disasters had happened to me? And then I think that there must be many Christians among the cities and villages hit by disaster—they are right now being tormented by depths of suffering, how can I remain calm?
As the Bible says, “If one member suffers, all suffer together.” Though I have been a believer for many years, I did not understand the depth of this in the past. But now I have experienced this in our current experience. Though we are separated by hundreds and thousands of miles, but because of Christ, we have become the closest of families. This sense of family is built on the foundation of Christ, because we are the closest to one another in this world. When one member suffers, we all share in the suffering, and feel the same pain. Only in this way can we bring him comfort and strength.
Therefore, it is now the time for brothers and sisters in peace to stand up and do what we can to lend a hand of aid to our brothers and sisters suffering disasters. And when we are on our knees, we should also lift them up in our prayers asking God to protect them from these disasters. If we keep our mouths closed at this point and do not pray and intercede, God will rise up deliverance for them from another place. But what sort of people will we have become before God?
Brothers and sisters, when we see our brothers and sisters suffering disaster, we need to ask God to take away the coldness and hardness within our hearts, to make our hearts warm so that we may strengthen our brothers and sisters. Although we are not capable of preventing disasters from happening, and we know how insignificant we are in the face of disaster, none of this matters. What matters is that we know we have one Father. He is the one true God, the Lord of all heavens and earth. We need to believe in his authority, and that nothing is too hard for him.
When praying to God, we must come with a heart of love for our brothers and sisters and for all people. The loss and pain that brothers and sisters in disasters suffer is something we cannot comprehend. When faced with disasters, their hearts are strong, yet weak. Before the world, they put on their best show of strength. But when they turn towards God, they bare their innermost being: weeping, pain, struggles, discouragement, and yearning for Father God’s mercy and grace.
Perhaps at this time property and material possessions are no longer important to them. Perhaps what they need most is God’s embrace and the love of brothers and sisters. Compared with the material scarcity, the coldness of brothers and sisters is far more terrifying. At this time, they desperately need comfort and prayers. Perhaps ten thousand sentences of encouragement in the past cannot compare with the concreteness of a single word of comfort, or a hug, or a prayer.
We need to believe that the prayer of the righteous has great power, and we must stand in the place of the righteous to pray for our brothers and sisters suffering disasters. Because they are not strangers to us but our family in the Lord. We must also believe that our Father God is pleased with us when we pray on their behalf. Our Father God longs to see his children united. And I believe that if one day we also fall into distress, others will pray for us as well, since the Bible says we are the body of Christ. When we truly see the body united, we will find that we are living out God’s word that we have love one for another.
When we further see people of the world suffering disaster, our hearts are distressed as well, because the Bible says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Although they do not need us when rejoicing, when they weep they definitely need us. Although they do not believe in Jesus, or have heard yet have not accepted the gospel, or have even resisted it, we are still unwilling to see them destroyed by disaster.
“Weep with those who weep” is not something easy to do. Because everyone loves going to the house of a marriage feast, hoping the happiness will rub off, but are unwilling to go to the house of mourning, feeling afraid of the misfortune. Since ancient times, there have been far more who are willing to add to happy occasions than who are willing to offer warmth in the cold. But Christians are called to be different from the world. When Jesus was here on earth, he often went to the homes of the sick, of the poor, to offer them aid and healing. Because Jesus knew that they needed him more than those with power and influence. As Jesus said, those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. This is also our Lord’s teaching to us.
Jesus’ expectation of us is not that, “if no one wrongs me, I wrong no one. If someone wrongs me, I will wrong him.” Nor is it the concept of an eye for an eye. The Lord’s teaching to us is that, “if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matthew 5:41), and “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head” (Romans 12:20). The main point here is to offer forgiveness, to bear with them, and to accept those who once harmed or attacked us.
When Christ was walking the earth, he did not force or deceive others into following him. Instead, he lavished upon them his pure love. Being warmed and softened by his love, they were willing to abandon the evil they had done in the past and the gods they had sought to follow him.
As Christians, we must also live out Christ’s love, bearing with and forgiving the ways people of the world have mocked us in the past, offering prayers out of love for them in their times of distress. We pray for Christians because they are our brothers and sisters, our family. We ought to love one another and help one another. We pray for the world because they need Jesus the Savior. If we do not pray for them, they will be eternally destroyed. In all things is God’s good will. Perhaps through our prayers, they will come to their senses in times of distress, and instead of running straight into falsehood, they will find the path of life.
As Christians, we must have a heart of love for our brothers. For people of the world, we must love their souls. Dear brothers and sisters, let us no longer hesitate or question. Let us lift up our holy hands, and pray for the tens of thousands of brethren who are suffering disasters: May God be merciful on we who are so insignificant. Let us pray in faith, because God is all powerful. He is in control of all things in this world, and all things are of him, through him, and for him. In the face of disaster, we need to seek him.
In the face of disaster, we also need to examine our own hearts and repent of our own sins. Because sometimes it is not that God’s arm has shortened, but that he has covered his face from us because of our sin. God is love, and he is unwilling to see his children coldhearted in the face of disaster. For the sake of the Lord, we cannot turn a blind eye toward those who are suffering. Furthermore, Christians are the light that God has set in this world, so it is our duty and responsibility to light the path for the world, and this light is in fact our love and actions.
Though our strength knows limits, God’s does not. God values how we respond to the sufferings of our brothers and sisters. Therefore, I pray that we will not fail God when he entrusts us to intercede. If we can, let us offer the little strength we have. Let us all pray from a loving heart that these disasters will pass away soon and that those who suffer may find peace and solace. May God bless us. Amen!
Original Article: 基督徒啊举起手来，为正在受灾的百姓代祷呼求！by 基督时代 (WeChat ID: ChristianTimes)
Translated, edited and reposted with permission.
Image credit: A friend of ChinaSource.
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