My writing professor loved to say, “The solution to a man’s problems is always obvious to everyone but the man himself.” How true that when a friend struggles to find answers we suddenly know all the answers. Often we miss the mark, but even when the solution glares at the end of the tunnel, our troubled friend stumbles in utter darkness. Consider the friend or loved one in your life today whose problem seems so solvable. If only they would do this or that. If only they would just hear me out. Then they would understand and the problem would vanish. If only.
Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, pens a simple prayer that offers guidance to those of us watching a friend or loved one wrestle through a rough season. Paul says, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you” (Eph. 1:18). Notice that Paul doesn’t pray: “that the eyes of your heart would understand this or that, that the ears of your heart would just hear me out and understand.” He prays for enlightened hearts that would know hope.
In the midst of my own challenges and storms, I often lose sight of hope. Maybe hope eludes you as you consider that friend or loved one. Maybe you lack the grace to pray as Paul prays. The beautiful truth is that God not only seeks to weather each storm with us but also lavishes on us all we need. “In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us” (Eph. 1:7-8). Friend, God has given us redemption, forgiveness, and grace. He lavished on us these gifts.
The word lavish reminds me of my mission trip to Haiti in 2010 when our team was blessed with a beach day. For days we had navigated the language barrier while teaching Bible Stories, hauled concrete chunks from a leveled house to the shoreline, fought to preserve new friendships, and strived to show God’s love even in our exhaustion. We were overwhelmed by the culture and the task. At the resort, we felt out of place. Undeserving. Who were we to experience such extravagance? Yet we sampled conch on the open-air veranda and explored turquoise waters. We rested and fellowshipped under palm-thatched umbrellas. In a desolate place that wearied us, God provided an unexpected oasis of rest. That evening we drove back to the streets Croix-de-Bouquet recharged and ready to serve. Ready to give grace and pray for those in darkness.
When you consider the complicated circumstance of that friend or loved one, perhaps frustration wells up inside you. Perhaps you feel exasperated because they just don’t get it. They don’t see what you see. Maybe they do see the right path, but their heart remains steadfastly stubborn. Thank God now for the grace he has lavished on you. Ask him to help you lavish love and grace on that troubled friend. Pray that their heart may be enlightened so that hope might be restored.
Prayer: I pray that the eyes of __________ heart may be enlightened in order that __________ may know the hope to which God has called __________.