These past few months have been soaked in tears from tragic events both near and far. The news of heinous acts and destructive forces have seemed to flood our news feeds with the images of brokeness and heartache. That’s why I had to put the uplifting picture above. For a reminder that there is still good around us and within us.
In times like these, I’m reminded of a man named Joseph.
Joseph went from being thrown into a pit by his brothers, to being sold to merchants passing by. He was separated from his family, worked as a servant in a palace, and then was wrongfully sent to prison. He was eventually freed and then placed in charge of Pharoah’s entire palace. Not exactly the route many would sign up for in order to experience redemption. Nonetheless, this is his story. Joseph experienced a magnitude of heartache in his lifetime, but the ache never blinded him from noticing the condition of others around him.
You see, Joseph was a dreamer and an interpreter of dreams. His gift of interpretation played a vital role while he spent time in prison. Joseph wasn’t just another prisoner- he was put in charge of other prisoners. Let’s unpack a moment of his life:
“They remained in prison for quite some time, and the captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, who looked after them. While they were in prison, Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker each had a dream one night, and each dream had its own meaning. When Joseph saw them the next morning, he noticed that they both looked upset. “Why do you look so worried today?” he asked them. And they replied, “We both had dreams last night, but no one can tell us what they mean.” “Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” Joseph replied. “Go ahead and tell me your dreams.”(Genesis 40:4-7 NLT)
Joseph noticed the countenance of each man had fallen and responded to them with wisdom and compassion. He provided the prisoners with the knowledge they needed at that time in order to walk through their own uncertainty. Not only were the lives of these men impacted by Joseph’s awareness, but Joseph’s life was changed as well…all because he took the time to notice his neighbor’s condition.
How many of us could say the same? How have we responded to those around us who are facing uncertainty or suffering? Are we taking time to notice?
All of us have experienced brokenness and walked through difficult seasons. No one is exempt. Whether from recent events, or from traumatic hurts in our past- we have internal reminders of the experiences we have endured through. Those internal gifts give us the ability to notice when others are facing uncertainty or suffering. Friend, I believe that God can do his most beautiful work when we use those reminders, those gifts, to notice our neighbors and walk beside them through their difficulty.
Here is my challenge today:
Notice the neighbors next door who could use an encouraging word.
Notice the family of the child with special needs that could use a reminder that they are all seen and all loved, and not alone.
Notice the new kid at school who wants to sit with someone at lunch and needs a friend.
Notice the man at the bank who could use a genuine smile and a friendly wave.
Notice the homeless man who is only asking for “anything” on his cardboard sign .
Notice the woman who sits in church waiting to be greeted; she may have been waiting all week long to receive a hug.
Notice everyone …in the store, on the street, and around our communities, because everyone in this world is waiting for someone to notice them and take action. No matter the creed or conviction, they are all still our neighbors.
By putting the word our in front of the word neighbors, it signifies that they belong to us. Our neighbors are a part of our daily lives. They are entrusted to our care and we must love them well.
Friend, will you join me in this challenge to be someone who takes notice? Let’s pray:
God, give us eyes to see the neighbors all around us. Our schedules would like to keep us busy, but help us to slow down and look around us for the opportunities for Your love and compassion to be given to others. Lord, You’ve told us in Your Word,
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 (NIV)
Lord, We recognize that sometimes laying down our lives looks a lot more like laying down our busyness and our schedules and our pride. You’ve created us for community-for deep and meaningful connectedness with one another. Help us God to remember that everyone around us is our neighbor, whether near or far. Help us to remember that everyone around us is facing something difficult and needs hope. God, may we be people who take care of one another. May we be people who notice the faces around us and who take action. Help us to love everyone the way that You do; help our arms to embrace those in need. Help our feet to walk towards those who are hurting and experiencing pain. Help our resources to be used to love others well; to give water to those that are thirsty and food for the hungry, and hope to the hopeless and peace to the restless. Your love is great God and you have placed it within all of us to administer to everyone unconditionally. Lord, may everyone around us feel Your love through us. Thank You Lord for taking notice of us- whether in the high points or low points of our own lives- You are The God Who Sees Us (Genesis 16:13 NIV). Help us to be people who honor that quality of Your Great Name.
Go the extra mile and check out this amazing song by Danny Gokey: