While visiting my brother in the pediatric ward, we could not help but come into contact with the family and friends of the other children who were staying there. Their stories opened our eyes to a much greater context of suffering than we felt within our own family. We saw children bravely persevering through struggles just as difficult and, at times, just as dangerous as my own brother was facing. We learned to pray for them when we prayed for him.
My father and I visited the hospital chapel one afternoon, and we read the book in which parents, spouses, siblings, children, and friends poured out their hearts to God. Some were heart-breaking: "Please, God, give my dad healing and more time." Others were exuberant: "Jesus, my savior and friend, I love you!" My father and I wept and prayed over the book and the people we had never met, but whose suffering our God watched every moment of every day.
Later on in the week, I called my brother to say goodnight. Before ending our conversation, I asked to pray with him. I prayed for his healing, for the easing of his pain, and for the comfort of the Lord's presence. When it was my brother's turn to pray, this is what he prayed: "God, there are so many hurting children in this place. Please heal them and bring them home."
I was utterly humbled. My brother--bound to a bed with pain and weakness--prayed for others before praying for himself. How often could I say that I did the same?
Sometimes it takes pain to recognize pain. But sometimes, too, it takes simply a Christ-centered mindset--to see others as He saw them. Jesus had compassion on others, even when He was tired and even when He was struggling with His own hurts.
Take a look around you. Who is in pain? Who battles physical illness or chronic health problems? Who is emotionally weary? Who is spiritually struggling? Let Christ's compassion lead you to pray fervently, to serve selflessly, and to love sincerely. Make pain your road to the throne of God.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.