Faith, Life, Living with Intention, Love

Pain: A Heart Like Jesus

safe vs obedient quote copy

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

When I first read a headline about the Syrian refugee crisis, it was a blip on the radar of my attention.

Then, I read more.

I discovered the shocking reality of the numbers of people impacted by ISIS’ actions in the middle East. Millions fleeing their homes just so they can stay alive, so they can keep their children alive. They take dangerous risks in the hopes of living another day. And my heart broke.

Purple wildflowers

And I stopped to let myself really feel the impact of this tragedy.

But I’m so far away. What can one stay-at-home mom with no real influence do?

Rock wall

It’s too easy to stay walled off from the world’s pain. To barricade myself in my own quiet home. So easy to pour myself into my own family, and the friends who people my small world. It’s simple to justify that one person can’t change anything, so why bother trying? People will do what they’re going to do, right?

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This rationale makes it easy to distance myself from the pain millions in this world endure. If I don’t feel their pain, I don’t need to act on it. I can keep my blinders on and go about life, immune to the heartbreak all around me.

If I say I want to be a woman after God’s own heart, I must to be willing to let the things that break His heart break mine.

Heart with cracks copy

God hasn’t put us here at this time in history to go about life on our terms. He’s put us here to reveal His love to a lost and dying world. If I don’t allow myself to feel the pain He feels, I’m doing Him and others a great dishonor.

As I’ve considered my calloused heart, I’ve been convicted, but not sure what I can do. That God. He gave me some action points through a recent message our pastor shared. What follows are some takeaways for sand-papering the callouses off our hearts:

  1. Allow ourselves to feel the burdens the people of our world carry—to feel the heartache and heartbreak of those around us, and those a world away. Distress surrounds us. We need to pray for eyes that see.

2. Remember that God moves through the prayers of the broken. When we come to Him with repentance and confession—when we have an accurate view of God—He will move. When we’re broken by what’s going on, we reflect His heart. We must believe God is listening, and He will answer the prayers of the broken. Especially when the situation is bigger than we are, we must pray. 

Open Gate

3. When the Holy Spirit prompts us to act, we must move in faith. Sometimes, our calling is to pray. But there will be times to act. With the Syrian refugee crisis, we may be prompted to donate money to ministries (like wewelcomrefugees.com)  assisting refugees. Maybe your calling is to take in a family and help them get a new start here in the United States. Is this easy? NO! But, if God is prompting you to act, then with His leading, step out in faith. He wants our lives to reflect His love to a lost and dying world.

4. If God is calling us to act, prepare. We need to ask for His guidance, and do what He shows us to do.

5. We need to practice patience. He may not act the moment we step out in obedience to what he shows us to do. We still need to keep moving forward. Also, There may be times to stay silent about what we’re doing because those around us may be discouragers rather than encouragers.

6. We need to participate. It’s easy to stand back from the heart of the pain, to keep our own hearts safe. God hasn’t called us to a safe life. He’s called us to an obedient life. A serving life. We need to make the decision to say, “God, I’m in.” And be all in.

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If I want to have a heart like Jesus’, I must move beyond the “want-to” into the realm of experiencing the pain and asking God to use me in the midst of it.

Easy? Never. But we aren’t called to easy lives. We are called to holy lives.

What about you? How do you respond to the tragedies going on around you? When have you allowed yourself to feel others’ pain and what have you don about it?

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11 thoughts on “Pain: A Heart Like Jesus”

  1. I have saved refugees, but you don’t want to know how.

    Now…well, there are 21 rescued dogs in a small house.Their needs run our lives, but these small souls are God’s creation.

    They were abandoned, and tormented, and shot…but they still can love. They can bear witness to an innocence that we can only dimly grasp – vite the instruction, preach the Gospel to all creatures.

    A lot of this is fun, a lot is hard, and some is heartbreaking. The important thing is realizing that it doesn’t matter what I drive, or what kind of TV I have, or whether entertaining’s even an option. My home is a lifeboat; if I could I would open it to however many Syrians would fit. We’d get by.

    The world is an abattoir. If Christianity means anything at all, we have to embrace the bloodied survivors. We have to walk onto the killing floor, and take the victims home.

    And we have to kill those who would do them harm. Not ‘stop’, not ‘neutralize’. We’ve got to kill them all.

    I hope you will pardon the directness, Jeanne. Today was a day from Hell, and I am mildly surprised to still be breathing. It’ getting worse, it sucks, but the responsibility remains the same.

    We’re not here to have fun. We’re here to fight Hell itself.

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    1. Andrew, sorry I didn’t respond sooner. It’s been a busy day. Your heart for others and for your dogs truly reflects Jesus. And yes, letting go of the externals–the nice house, new car, etc–and remembering what the Main Thing is is the first big step in loving like Jesus does.We do need to embrace the bloodied survivors. And for those who can, yes, deal with the evil as God directs. Definitely. I don’t mind your directness, my friend.

      And, i’ve been praying for you throughout this day. Thank you for your strong, brave example.

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  2. Prayers for you, Andrew and all you’re going through….

    I appreciate this perspective. All of God’s creation needs to be rescued and welcomed. Where are we called?

    I’ve struggled with this – I was shocked and horrified by the Syrian crisis, but how is it different that refugee from Central America? Trying to be open and ready to see where God asks me to help…

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    1. I love that you’re trying to be open to see how God leads you to help. And I certainly don’t want to denigrate the other places in our world where there are refugees fleeing and homeless. It just happens to be the Syrian situation that really grabbed my heart, you know? Thank you for your example, Annie!

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  3. Jeanne, this is just how I feel. I almost didn’t even post my “frivolous” canning season post today, because I feel so heartbroken. Yet, I agree with Annie, how is this different from the Central American refugees? I remember when the Vietnamese refugees came here — churches sponsored families. Is that an option these days? Is letter writing Congress worth our time? Feeling overwhelmed with the bigness of tragedy and the smallness of me. But you are right — God is bigger than it all and He has put us here to reveal Him to the world. thanks for this post.

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    1. I so agree! It’s hard to feel like we can do anything when millions of people are in such heart-breaking situations. I believe God leads us to act differently, individually according to where He has us in life. Our call is to be obedient to whatever it is God shows—and enables—us to do. I am so thankful for your comment. I always appreciate when you stop by. 🙂

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  4. I’m with Andrew. we need to get rid of those murders who are killing the Syrians and causing all this; there are millions of refugees. Do I care? yes. But lets get rid of the cause not just treat the symptoms. And what about all the unborn babies being murdered in the womb? We can do something about this now here. Get our protest to government and do it by the millions. Stop paying Planned Parenthood with OUR TAXES from torturing and murdering our children and selling their body parts for profit. Leviticus 18:21-22 shows God’s heart on sacrificing our children to false gods. Sorry Jeanne. This is the passion in my life right now.

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  5. This is a tricky one…my heart tells me to do something to help while at the same time my mind warns me that this may also be the easiest way for ISIS to infiltrate our’s and other countries disguised as refugees.
    Like with anything, when we feel driven to follow our hearts we should also test that emotion against other proven methods of finding truth.
    Gut feelings can be great warning lights but they’re not navigation systems.
    For me, I pray to one day have the compassionate heart of Jesus right where I live. I want to be more aware of daily needs around me and have the kind of consistantly that makes me really care about them. I pray that God accomplishes that in me, and maybe then I’ll better know how to respond to crisis on the other side of the world.

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    1. Gene, I like the point you bring up. Often, the work begins in us before we can be effective in responding to the crises others face. I think I’m going to adopt your prayer of becoming more aware of the needs around me and caring deeply for them, like Jesus does. You share great wisdom here. Thanks for adding your perspective!

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  6. Gut feelings can be great warning lights but they’re not navigation systems. Thanks for this Gene! It is so true! God’s been leading me into thinking about His perspective of this situation and how it fits into His end time plans. I’m blogging about it today. He does know how to grow us, aye?

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