A Prayer to Remember the Afflicted This Holiday Season
By Lynette Kittle
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” – Hebrew 13:3
During the holidays, probably more than any other time of the year, people are drawn to remember and help those who are suffering. At the same time, many struggle with thinking of those in dire situations, feeling guilty for enjoying festivities. So, how do we handle the suffering of others throughout the holidays? Is it okay to enjoy the festivities when so many in the world are suffering? How do we remember individuals being mistreated and still celebrate with our family, friends, and community?
As Christians, we know God is close to the brokenhearted, to those who are suffering (Psalm 34:18). He doesn’t forget them in their distresses, nor ever leaves or forsake them even in the darkest, deepest pits of despair (Hebrews 13:5). At the burning bush, God revealed to Moses His heart for those who suffer. “The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering” (Exodus 3:7).
If you’ve ever wondered if God sees the misery, hears the cries, and is concerned with suffering, the answer is ‘yes.’ Still, it’s hard for us to understand how such a loving, compassionate, and giving God could ever even allow any suffering in the world.
When Suffering Entered the World
Adam’s sin brought suffering to all humans. Sadly, ever since then, the world has been a place of suffering with no one escaping it. Romans 5:12 explains, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people because all sinned.”
Not even Jesus escaped suffering and is often referred to as the “Suffering Servant.” Suffering is a result of sin entering the world, yet some, like Job’s friends (Job 1-42), saw it as God’s punishment. True, many do suffer consequences from their own sins, but Jesus, who was sinless, suffered to the point of physical death. His suffering was willingly, and for our sake, to break the power of sin’s curse over our lives. Although most of us usually don’t willingly invite suffering into our lives, becoming more like Jesus usually involves suffering at some level. So, if or when it comes, how do we respond?
How to Respond to Suffering
Even in suffering, we are called to trust God and seek to do His will. 1 Peter 4:19 urges, “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” Because God remembers those who are suffering, it’s on His heart. As He cares for those in distress, He calls us to remember them, too, as if we are right there suffering with them. Although our suffering experiences may not compare to or be at the same depth or level as theirs, our hearts are kept softened when we remember and pray as God leads us.
Because there are so many in the world suffering today, we ask for Your help in remembering them in our thoughts and prayers. We thank You and praise You, dear Lord, for never leaving or forsaking them (Hebrews 13:5), especially in their distress, offering each one Your comfort and strength in their suffering.
We are grateful for your faithfulness and nearness to those afflicted and cast down this holiday season. Thank you for Your presence with the countless individuals caught in the middle of wars, genocides, persecutions, imprisonment, and more. We ask for your divine protection over their hearts, minds, and bodies, sending Your word to heal and deliver them from destruction (Psalm 107:20) and to relieve their suffering by encouraging, uplifting, and refreshing their hearts.
Lord, help us to remember them. Let us willingly keep our hearts tender toward them and what they are going through. Although we may not understand the depth of someone’s suffering, let us be compassionate, caring, generous, and prayerful toward them at this time of the year and all year long.
Father, move upon our hearts and minds to reach out to them in ways that will encourage, sustain, and refresh them during the darkest of days.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Tinnakorn Jorruang
Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, StartMarriageRight.com, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.
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