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She brushed past us in the school hallway. Her shoulders sagged beneath the weight of brimming tears. Flushed cheeks and nose betrayed her struggle to withhold sobs. She avoided eye contact.  The girl continued down the hall in silence, as if she hoped to take cover before the cry burst forth.

Did she know I prayed for her? As a complete stranger to her, I didn’t dare stop her or say anything that might add embarrassment to her morning. Of the dozen sorrow triggers I can imagine for high school orientation, I had no idea which one crushed her heart. I cannot say whether she whisked home without a single friend to ask what was wrong. I don’t know where she broke open to release that imminent flood of tears.

Perhaps the girl believed her stifled cries went unnoticed. If so, I pray she learns the truth. Though she’ll never know I cared, may her heart come to know One Who loves her without limit. If she sobs in a subterranean cave or weeps at the bottom of the sea, His heart will feel each stab of her pain. No cry is hidden from His ear.

I plead with the Holy Spirit to bring her a friend who will impart Christ’s love to her. She should not continue to feel unheard, unseen, or alone in her suffering. In more ways than one, she is not alone. Far too many people struggle in silent isolation from others, unaware of how precious they are to God. Christ reaches toward the lost and broken with compassion-scarred hands. I wish more people knew that He hears every moan and cherishes each tear as part of His own heart’s pain.

We can become the flesh of His embrace, reaching out to share love with the outcasts and the crushed souls. Whether today’s call is to prayer, an intimate conversation, or a blog post, the Spirit will prompt us. Offer hope. Show them Who cares. Though culture insists on qualifications like intelligence, vigor, or status, God seeks heartfelt obedience. Those who listen to the Spirit can brighten the world. One shivering soul at a time. In these chilling times, a throng of suffering hearts depends on us.

 

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:17-18).

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
     and provide for those who grieve” (Isaiah 61:1-3).

“When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate” (Exodus 22:27).

“You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed” (Psalm 10:17-18)

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering” (Isaiah 53:4).

“You Yourself have recorded my wanderings.
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your records?” (Psalm 56:7-8)

 

My childhood days at the beach included wading as far into the ocean as my tiptoes allowed. My father, brother, and I peered across the glimmering water’s surface toward the oncoming swells. We sprang over mild waves, sharing a grin between them. Moderate heights demanded a bit more focus for a moment, but we took time between body surfing them to relate. A few swells hid among the ordinary ones, surging above our heads when we least expected them. Those giant waves overwhelmed us. We sputtered and flailed through. We prayed for a break between waves, the merciful sun to greet us when we surfaced. We didn’t have the equipment or expertise to handle them.

Only a real surfer could take the big waves.

I watch real surfers with admiration. They glide through tubes of water, skimming and swerving along the sunkissed ocean as if dancing on cerulean glass. I sigh and wonder how delightful it would be to possess such grace. I lack balance, and have struggled with rhythm and poise since youth. Teetering upon a surfboard never seemed like a natural talent my feet could perform.

Surfers train themselves to balance on their boards, then face the waves with sure footing. Some take on giant swells over seventy feet high. They don’t freak and head for shore when the water gets rough. The bigger the wave, the greater the sense of victory.

I venture into the ocean less and less, preferring to gaze at it from the beach these days. Other waves pummel me, however. Lifewaves range from tiptoe-jump distractions to rogue events swelling over my head. Sometimes I have no time to catch my breath between them. If I don’t stay balanced on my  supportive lifeboard, the waves will overwhelm me. Without balance and the right equipment, I’ll drown.

Did I mention my lack of balance? I did not enter the world with a surfboard in hand, either. An awkward soul like me needs constant training from her Coach. I must show up for workouts every day without fail, letting Him guide me toward success. He provides the wooden cross to float me over certain destruction I’d meet on my own strength. I can only jump so high without help, and big waves come to us all. It doesn’t take much to overwhelm me, a fact I can attest to with recent experience. I forgot to trust His support under my feet. If I had reacted like a real surfer, the board and I would move like a unit.

When lifewaves come, I need to remember my Coach’s words and glide united with the cross in confidence. If I resolve to life like a faithful surfant, waves will only testify to His power. The bigger the wave, the greater the victory.

How about you? Are you fed up with trying to body surf through life on your own strength, too?  Consider getting together with the Coach and taking up His board. Check out Romans for a starting place in your training guide. Catching the waves instead of letting them catch you is, after all, a matter of surfvival.

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