Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say. — Isaiah 28:23
Suffering, in all its various forms, is a universal human experience. While there often isn’t an answer to the question why suffering exists, there are many answers to how we can respond to the suffering of others. Our devotions explore how God comforts us, and how we can comfort others in times of suffering.
I recently read a story about a young, successful executive who was driving his brand-new Jaguar too fast down a quiet neighborhood street. He was watching out for children and slowed down just a bit. For a moment, he thought he saw something, but when nothing obvious appeared, he rushed on. Suddenly a brick smashed into the side of his car door. The man pulled over, furious, and grabbed the first kid he saw.
“That’s a new car!” he yelled at the terrified child. “That damage is going to cost! What were you thinking?” By now, the boy was in tears as he pointed to something farther up the block on the ground, half in the street. “I’m sorry Mister,” he sobbed. “My brother fell out of his wheelchair. He is hurt, and I’m not able to pick him up. I threw the brick because no one else would stop to help us, and I didn’t know what else to do.”
By the time the boy was done speaking, the businessman was in tears as well. He walked over to the boy’s brother, picked him up, made sure he was OK, and helped him back in his wheelchair. The young boy was grateful and happily pushed his brother home.
The young businessman later said that he decided never to fix the dent on his Jaguar’s side door. He wanted it to stay as a reminder to never go so fast through life that you don’t see another person’s suffering. He wanted to remember not to be so blind that someone has to throw a brick to get his attention.
Similarly, God constantly whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Yet, often we are going so fast through our lives that we don’t hear what He is saying. Or maybe we pause when we think we might have heard something, but when nothing obvious shouts out at us, we carry on as if that tiny nudge to do something had never even happened.
Sometimes, God has to throw a symbolic brick at us to get our attention. Only then do we see or hear what He’s been trying tell us or how we might need to act to help someone in need.
In Isaiah we read, “Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say.” God sends us messages all day long; we only need to pay attention and listen. When we see a problem, try to solve it. When we see someone in need, try to help. When we need to change something, change it. When God calls to us softly, answer Him – before He needs to do something more drastic to get our attention.