About the Author

Alia Joy is an author who believes the darkness is illuminated when we grasp each other's hand and walk into the night together. She writes poignantly about her life with bipolar disorder as well as grief, faith, marriage, poverty, race, embodiment, and keeping fluent in the language of hope in...

Related Resources & Gifts
Find more at DaySpring.com
Related
Resources
& Gifts
Find more at
DaySpring.com
Recent Posts

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Alia Joy,
    Yes, our kids will definitely keep us humble! But, yes, having lived most of my life dealing with bouts of anxiety and depression and having had numerous surgeries, I think I’ve heard every cliche, pithy saying, oft quoted scripture, and platitude in the book. I know people mean well, but when we dole out fluff when what is truly needed is heavy lifting, it kind of wreaks of pride and selfishness. Like you said, I don’t think people want to know or face that life can get this gritty and messy at times. What I remember, from my deepest times of trial – when I couldn’t get out of bed – was not “I’ll pray for you”, but people who did things like my laundry. Being elbow deep in someone else’s socks and underwear says “love” and burden bearer like non other. Bringing a meal, a prescription, just sitting with you, or walking your dog says more than just quoting scripture. From my experiences of being on the receiving end of being loved in my utter weakness, I pray that the Lord won’t let me get away with dishing out platitudes or cliche sayings when what I really need to do is roll up my sleeves and dig in. Wonderful post and so true!! Still smiling though of the image of you like a goat on its back 🙂
    Blessings truth teller,
    Bev xx

    • It was definitely a sight to behold. My kids have my sense of humor so we all had a good laugh after they got poor mom off the floor. 😉

  2. With tears streaming, this is simply beautiful. Filled with tender loving mercy. Thank you for this written expression of the body of Christ responding like Jesus.

  3. THIS LINE RIGHT HERE……”Who didn’t just see the obstacles ahead and say, “Well don’t worry, Jesus is up ahead, even though you can’t see Him, and everything will be fine,” but who instead bore me on their shoulders and made a way to place me at Jesus’ feet. “

    • I love that passage of scripture because it’s so vividly a picture of how we can come alongside someone and help carry them to Jesus. How they were literally tearing the roof off to lower him down. I think of this story often when I’m praying about how I can help be there for someone.

  4. So good, a needed reminder to actually move when prompted. I think sometimes our failure to move is from our own fear that we can’t ourselves be enough. But God’s strength shines in the helper’s weakness as much (more?) than the sufferer’s weakness. I pray that God would remind me of this and nudge my heart to respond.

    • Yes, that’s so true. That feeling that we have nothing to offer. But then you think of the smallest offerings and what Jesus did with them. There are no small contributions in the Kingdom of God.

    • Thank you for your words today and I pray that God will help me move to help others when I feel it in my heart. And to know that I AM ENOUGH.

  5. I love the humor and candor with which you address this subject, which yes, we do have a tendency to gloss over to make it shine for someone else, but often struggle to believe when we’re the one trying to tug out the thorn. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Praying God will do this very work in & through me that you have so tenderly shared! That my words as well as my actions would be the very visible hand of our most loving God.

  7. Thank you for sharing this truth today. During my husband’s two battles with cancer and two out of state bone marrow transplants over the last few years I’ve heard all the quoted scriptures and been told since we were such strong Christians God allowed us these burdens. Big sigh…Thank you for reminding us that rather than just quoting sayings and scriptures to those going through tough times a visit to help with yard work, laundry, bringing a meal, taking care of the children are all meaningful acts of service that minister.
    We’ve learned through this that our actions speak so much louder than words. We are now quicker to be there for others in their times of need.

    • Comfort others with the comfort we’ve been given. And sometimes the reverse holds true. Comfort those as you wish you’d been comforted. Those experiences couldn’t have been easy and I’m sorry for the careless comments, and yet, you are that much more tender to others now. You know how to speak love and care to someone in a time of need.

  8. Thank you for putting into words what we as Christians are to be to and for each other. In my lifetime, I have been through far more then any one person should go through, yet there have be miniscule amt. of actions of help from other believers. I’m aways told I will be prayed for and sometimes have been in the moment, but there is nothing beyond that. Being physically disabled, living alone on a very sm. amt of money and having very little support, I don’t understand and have pretty much given up on church completely. I have not been able to get there for a yr. and a half now, as I no longer have transportation since my accessible van broke down and would have cost a lot of money to repair. Other then medical appts., I have rarely been out of the house. One person from church I hired to take me to appts. Since I normally use a power chair, we had to use a manual chair which the person had to push it as I can not propel one anymore. That person is leaving at the end of this month, so I will have other means to get to appts. with exception of my tues. aide who takes me to a standing wkly out of town appt. and any others we can fit in. She also, works so hard at trying to keep up with laundry, and household chores. We also get groceries on that day as well. No one has stepped up to the plate to help me at all in this situation other then the one from church I hired and another who help now and then. Like with all the other things I have been through, people have there statements like you spoke about, but I see no real love of the Lord. It has been in different churches I have attended. I don’t get how they can just pray, yet stay away, and not help in any way. Like I said, I have been through so much and some of the things I went through were made worse because no one would stand up walk beside me, not even take me to Jesus if I called and needed to talk. I am beyond depressed at this point and tired of church that is to be the family of God. My family as a child was traumatic and to be honest, the neglect I have gotten from churches affirms to me that I am not worth caring about or loving. It is hard to heal from inner pain when the church body continuously affirms the lies. I am tired of fighting to keep going, fighting the lies by speaking the truth. I have had too much on my plate now for about 20 yrs. There just seems to be no reason to go on. God is with me, but, sometimes we need to see God in the flesh. We as Christians are to be the heart, the hands the voice of God, yet if I get anything, it is empty words and guilt trips b/c I am in a place of need. So long ago, I gave and gave to others but no one was giving back. Now my love tank is empty, I see no way for it to be refuel. I am so tired and needing a break from the constant efforts to do all I must do to survive and keep going. I would love someone to call when I could use some encouragement and someone to take me before the throne of God and someone to talk to about the Lord, that is so uplifting. I don’t know why, but I guess I am called to walk this journey alone cause I sure don’t have anyone from “the church body” to walk with me and help me work through the very hard things I have and am going through. When I can volunteer, I am remembered, but otherwise when I can’t give, I can go away.

    • Thank you!!!!! So often when my husband was sick and dying it was church people who said let me know if there is anything we can do to help but mostly unchurched who actually got down in the trenches and took over and helped. I learned a lot about people even myself in those days. What you have said here is pure truth no matter how sad it sounds. Bless you for it.

    • Dawn,
      I suffer too with pain and disability. I love this you wrote, “We as Christians are to be the heart, the hands the voice of God.” You identified the need and lack so clearly. I see and hear you!
      Nancy

    • Dawn,

      And then He led you to here……I can’t ignore your pain and despair, and I’m sorry you feel so let down. I hope you can find some comfort here, it’s been a blessing to me.

      Have a blessed day,

      Penny

    • Dawn, I feel you! But as I hear your story I also realized my great blessings in others who walk my journey with me. Because of my chronic illness I’ve been told countless slams against me. I just thank God He is always there, when the humans fail to understand or perform! I will pray for you and that’s a definite. With my chronic illness, I pray alot and need to let the workload in God’s hands. How many days I yearn for help I Can afford. Help without accusations and strings attached. The church doesn’t know how to deal with disabilities and chronic illness because we need constant care. When they feel their prayers aren’t answered and in their eyes we don’t get better they move on. They can’t handle the out of the box situations of our lives. Many PRAYERS! May the church stand up and show Jesus Christ in everyday life. We need help, physical help along with the prayers. I feel you. I’m so sorry and I care. ‘Though my friends and family forsake me, yet will I serve Jesus!’ Hugs.

    • Dawn, I just want to sit and have a good long ugly cry with you because that is so hard. What you’re sharing here breaks God’s heart too and though you feel alone and abandoned, you are held so close. I pray for the tangible love of God to show up in your life through others as well. I know it’s something that so many people with chronic issues of illness or disability deal with. I’m writing a whole book on weakness because it’s an issue so close to my heart and my own story. “Sometimes we need to see God in the flesh.” Yes, Dawn, we do. I wish I could reach through the screen and tell you you’re loved and cherished and known by God even as you are carrying such a heavy burden. It’s not the same, I know, but we offer this space to you to come and be seen. To come and be heard without having to do anything more than show up. I am sitting with your story today and praying that God would stir the hearts of those close to you to show up in a powerful way. May we have eyes to see the hurting and crushed among us and may we be willing to lift our corner of the mat and carry each other on.

    • Dawn, my heart hurts and aches for you in this place. Its a place that I know well, a place where many in the church did not, have not responded to my need.
      Oh dear sister, yes we need to see Christ in others because we are built for relationship, community, and service and I am sorry that the church has not walked with you as it is meant to. You are not alone and how I would love to come along and walk beside you here. I hear your weariness and feel your pain; please hear me when I say that you are so loved and cherished. How I would love to just give you a hug right now 🙂 As hard as it may be and I get that because it has been hard for me, please forgive them and let go of the lies that say you’re not worth love.
      Praying hard today, dear sister, that you may lifted up into His gentle arms of healing love, seconding Alia’s prayers, and that the church will see the beautiful grace in you 🙂

    • Hello, Dawn, how are you doing today? I am thinking about you and praying for you! I wanted you to know. I so want to be be there for you! Many PRAYERS, tears and hugs!

  9. We (meaning I) have so far to go in the ministry of really entering into another person’s pain. Thanks for this soulful and yet practical primer on the challenge of “my pain in your heart” compassion.

  10. I, too, have felt abandoned during times of great pain by the people I thought were supposed to be my closest allies: the church family. Having a few years between myself and the initial hurt, I believe I understand why this happens.

    We are taught – and so we expect it to be – that the church is a hospital for lives in crisis. In an actual hospital, there are experts to dress wounds, stop bleeding, and preserve life. The church at large is comprised of members who were born into it, have been raised in faith, and are not personally acquainted with divorce, sexual abuse, shunning by family members, loss of a child to foster care, or other hurts experienced by those whose families are unchurched. Through no fault of their own, the church often lacks the compassion or ability to walk these hard paths with the wounded simply because they have never been exposed personally.

    Those of us who have faced the hardest paths – physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially or otherwise – need to ensure we are showing up in the sanctuary faithfully! We need to put a face to pain. We need to make it OK for the next soul who stumbles weakly through the door that we. get. it.! If we begin to be the church we expected the church to be, *that* will make a difference.

    Blessings,
    Vicki

  11. So good! Thank you for this. I also am blessed by an actual hands on, loving community around me and that fact is definitely carrying me through a really hard season of life. I actually just wrote a really sad song about that quote “when God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window..”. I was frustrated because I’ve been feeling like the door has closed, the window isn’t open yet, and so I am suffocating in a very small room.
    But, what is keeping me alive, is that my friends are visiting me in this small room and bringing little tastes of fresh air here and there. I hope I can be that for others too.

    • I love that you have friends that help you breathe. That is a beautiful picture of what Christ can bring through those willing to enter those small and intimate spaces.

  12. YES! Love it all! (chronic pain and disability over here) May there arise a people “God with skin on.” Life from death, beauty from ashes. How can I be that?

  13. Wonderful devotion! We are all called to be the hands, feet, eyes and ears of Jesus. To bring his kingdom here on earth! I thank God every day for the gifts and talents he gives me to help broken people in this world. Because you’re absolutely right—-we need to be people that carry the burdens of our friends well!

  14. Our pastor once said that God gives resources so that we can experience the joy He feels in meeting the needs of others – not simply for our own comfort, although He provides for us, too. What a privilege it is to be permitted to be a part of His work in the world… especially when it is disguised as an interruption to our careful plans.

  15. This is all so true! 25 years ago, when my Mom got sick & I, being an only child, was the only one to be her care-taker, I don’t remember all the words of wisdom, the promises of prayers, or the Bible verses that people said to me. I remember the friends who came to help me with Mom, or to take care of my son, who was only 5 at the time, or to just give me a chance to go run errands, or attend church. Those friends were my life-line at the time! I try to still be that kind of friend myself, not just praying for the person, but actually helping in whatever way I can. Thank you for this post! It’s a great reminder that I need to move when God says to move & help with the heavy lifting by carrying a mat or two.

  16. “But sometimes after we’ve prayed, God is asking us to move.” Yes and amen! God is faithful to part the waters for us when we move forward in obedience. Great post. Isaiah 58 is always an encouragement to me to make sure a spiritual practice (fasting/prayer) has practical action.

  17. Alia Joy,

    This is a thoughtful awakening, thank-you. Yes we can pray, but with the many ways we can, Yes we should at least try to step up. And sometimes I need to be a bit more in tuned. I’m so very grateful to those who were in tuned to me.

    Have a blessed day all,

    Penny

  18. Alia, so much packed into this post. I was nodding through a lot of it, but wanted to sit with it a while before responding. I wanted to respond honestly.

    When my Mum got sick with cancer, I spent months on the other side of the world with my youngest at my side and my oldest and husband back at home. I was already suffering from undiagnosed depression. In those months I saw the love of God extended by His church. Women dropped meals off almost daily and one of Mum’s dear friends traveled two hours almost daily to come sit with my Mum when she couldn’t speak, wink and then no longer swallow. The dinners were such a gift, but if I had to decide which gift was most precious, it would be those believers who offered a listening ear and who sat with me and sent me messages of love from across the oceans. The woman who sat with Mum also took me aside to ask me how I was really doing. She cared for her husband through cancer to his death: she could offer the comfort God gave her- a listening ear and a hug. And that small gesture of but five minutes is the gift I treasure the most, that and the evening my best friend left her three kids at home with her husband and took me out for a coffee: away from the house I dare not leave: but into a restful evening I desperately needed to cry, share of all I was going through and be hugged.

    And when almost a year later I walked through caregiver PTSD what again blessed me most was that listening ear and encouragement. It was the woman who I barely knew from Bible study who saw my deep pain and invited herself over to listen to my story, crying real tears with me and holding my hand. It was my pastor’s wife who visited me almost every week with her three kids in tow to pray with me and bring Scriptures that spoke the truth I so needed to tether me through the storms. It was the pastor who shared of Christ entering our heartache, of Christ calling us to walk into and through, not numb away. It was grace givers and truth speakers.

    So, what does our church need? It needs men and women leaning into Christ and giving the gifts they’ve been given to extend: each gift unique and according to the need Christ sees. May I be a woman who listens to His voice and extends the love His church needs most. May God use me to comfort others in the same way Christ has comforted me.

    • I totally hear you Anna and I agree. What I wanted to get at is that sometimes we need to step out into those gaps and do tangible things. Even sitting with someone and listening is an act of care. You are talking about the gift of presence and that is something that is of great cost. I’m addressing the more flippant way we sometimes dismiss people’s needs when an offer to pray is tossed out without any real thought or intention about what the Holy Spirit is asking of us in those moments. And I totally agree that sometimes the Holy Spirit is asking us to slow down and sit close and listen and weep and hold each other up in the face of brokenness. I wrote about that kind of friendship, love, and service here so I want to make sure you know I’m not devaluing the gift of presence. It’s been a huge part of feeling loved and cared for by Jesus as well. https://aws.incourage.me/2016/09/ill-sit-with-you.html

      • Thanks, Alia. I’m sorry: I should have read your words more carefully. Thank you for including the link to your other post.

        I think you’ve isolated the crux of the matter here: “without any real thought or intention about what the Holy Spirit is asking of us in those moments.” The one time I was deeply hurt in my suffering through PTSD was when someone insisted, repeatedly, on trying to tell me I had no need for deep grief if I truly accepted the truth of God’s Word. This came from her own experience of grief: she wasn’t listening to me or to the Holy Spirit, but to her own story, trying to press her story onto my own. And I am ashamed to admit there have also been times I have acted in similar ways.

        During my almost two years off Facebook, I suddenly became much more receptive to the Spirit’s nudgings….and did things I would never have done without the Spirit’s leading: speaking a blessing over a stranger in a park whose appearance revolted me, bringing fresh fruit and later dinner to my daughter’s classmate’s Mum who I didn’t know when I found out she had cancer, becoming friends with a solo-Mum refugee who I have been able to assist in a number of practical ways. I can honestly say that these acts are not of my own leading- it is the Spirit who has initiated and encouraged each one, pressing me into it even when I didn’t feel like it.

        • Don’t be sorry! I’m so glad you brought it up because there is a big distinction between helping and hurting and it’s good to talk about both.

  19. Thanks for sharing! We all need a kick in the behind to get off our butts and DO something, rather than pat people on the back and stay in our little comfy corner and let others deal with it. If we have the resources or the time, we should definitely get going and make a difference in people’s lives, build relationships within the church (and in our community). Sometimes we to wait on the Lord and ask Him to show us a way. We surrender our lives, but yet we are not open to what comes up in our lives and are too busy with life, or our everyday routines (going to the gym, bible study, church, preparing for the week, pampering ourselves, etc. etc.) This article wakes me up!

    • I’m so glad Janet. Yes, I think waiting on the Lord and asking what He wants from us is key. Caring for each other shouldn’t be some kind of heavy legalistic burden but at the same time we shouldn’t just shrug it off because we’re too busy to sacrifice our time, money, energy etc. on someone else. Leaning into the Holy Spirit and praying, not just for the person, but for the tangible ways we might be called to step up is so vital.

  20. Alia, don’t feel badly, I fell out of my chair and under my desk. So much for me beingthe grace jugle cat that lands on two feet. And we only have one life, if you’ve ever come close enough to losing it you realize how much you take for granted. And even some of those heavy burdens that God will lighten. You are right about helping, however you can, some people can only pray but for others it is the hands on, and for God’s sake, bless someone with some rest. I hope you and mom are back on your feet soon, no pun intended. The devil may try to roar, but the Lion of Judah is greater.

  21. Alia, I thank our Lord for your gracious and truthful words here 🙂 I came back to the church at a time when I was so broken I needed the help of His people, His love coming through their hands and feet. I was met with comments about how many didn’t want to get involved, didn’t have experience in what my need was, didn’t have time, etc. At one point I asked why the body wasn’t acting as Christ asks us to. No one could answer. As I have prayed and dug deeper, I have found that culture is a hugh factor as is denial. Its easier to shy away from engaging and helping others if it helps one avoid their own pain or issues.
    Its taken me a while to forgive those who have acted this way, to not become bitter, and it has been hard to remain active in the church and give what was not given to me. Some have since come along side and it has been beautiful at times. Vicki is right that the church is meant to be a field hospital where we are perhaps to be the very ministers to those in need. There are so many beautiful points on this thread and I loved your bringing the story of the friends carrying their friend on the mat. May we lift each other up to the Lord in love, may we see those hurting around us, and may we surrender to be His hands and feet, His heart for each other 🙂

  22. Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing, especially since it can be oh so hard to do the heavy lifting of life with others, but ultimately its so very worth it.

  23. Another bit of advice, don’t say “call me if you need anything”. Most people will not call because they don’t want to be a burden or impose on others precious time.
    Instead, offer to do something, anything! When I was having treatments for cancer, a friend said these are the days I will take you. It was such a relief to not have to ask for help.

  24. Alia,

    We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus, not just the talkers. He wants us to go do things for others. He needs us to use the talents & abilities He has given us. I am an encourager and a doer. My first thought most times is “what can I do-let’s make a meal”. I have a good friend who was dealing with aging parents at the same time as I. One day she had both her parents in the ER. I quickly went to KFC and got a meal for her and her husband. It is stressful going to ER and waiting to see what happens. When my father passed away a few weeks ago she brought a meal for me and my family. It was nice not to have to cook the night he died.

    My philosophy is “let’s get busy and show them Jesus” . No pithy sayings, clichés- just do something. Many times, though, I will ask people to call me if they need anything. I tell them I’m here for you. Our little church is vastly different than most churches. We are a doer type of church. We want to make Jesus known. Our pastor’s wife shared that her mom was having some money issues. Our church got together and brought tons of food, gift cards and money for her. We also gave our pastor and his wife money, and gift cards. The look on her face was priceless. Why are you doing this? Our response “we want to help out. We’re showering Jesus on you and your family as you’ve done for us so many times”.

    Blessings 🙂