For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives... Colossians 1:9-14
I’m sure most of us can picture a time when we were questioning something, facing decisions about something, and wanting someone to come along and give us all the answers. I’m guessing a lot of times those answers also haven’t come, at least not when we want them. Dealing with that in our own situations can be extremely hard, but it can also be very hard to watch friends and loved ones struggle with those questions and decisions too. We naturally want to be able to fix things, to give advice, to solve those problems and find answers for those questions, for the people we care for.
Often this can make us shy away from people though, taking a step back, for fear of giving bad advice, or not having any advice to give, or just wanting to avoid causing more hurt. Alternatively, we can go into ‘fixer’ mode, providing lots of suggestions and answers. But we can jump in, without fully understanding the situation, or being out of place to give that advice.
The good news is that we aren’t called to be that ‘fixer’ – that is God’s job, and He is already at work in those situations, and in the heart of the person struggling. It can be hard to take a step back, but so often it is important for the person to come to their own solutions, and see the way through on their own, and God has probably put several steps in along that road already. Just as Jesus did on the road to Emmaus, all we need to do is to walk alongside people as they journey that, creating a space for them to ask the questions they need to ask and struggle through the challenges. We can be that comfort, the listening ear, we can challenge ideas, and ask questions that need to be asked, and we can share in scripture and truth we know of the gospel, but we don’t need to be or find the answer!
What we also need to do is pray! In this week’s passage we see Paul committed to praying for the Colossians, not for any specific situation, but for knowledge of God’s will, and for God’s strength. We have the incredible gift of being able to hold people up in prayer to God, offering him those situations, knowing that our almighty saviour has got it, when it feels far beyond our control.
Maybe, through those prayers, God can also use us to help give those words of advice, but we must ensure that these are given prayerfully, discerning that it is from God and not from ourselves. Does it bring glory to God? Does it seem in line with the heart and life of Jesus? As the wristbands say – WWJD – what would Jesus do?
This week where can you try to be a listener, rather than a fixer?
What have you felt moved to pray for, and who have you said you will pray for, and then forgotten? Take some time this week to intentionally pray for those situations. These can just be as simple as bringing them before God, offering them to Him who is best placed to work it for good and to bring resolution.
Loving God, thank you that you are in all these situations of hurt, struggles and questions, and have been there from the start. We offer those situations we know of to you now, and pray that you are at work in those places, revealing your will and the actions we should take. We ask for your help in guiding the conversations and the support that we may give, trying to create that space where you can work, and for discernment in any words of advice we do offer. Amen.
Written by Louise Westoby.