2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God
There are people hurting in life for many reasons, and God asks of us to help them through their season of loss. In love we reach out to God in prayer, the Father of compassion and the Source of every comfort, asking Him to comfort and touch them with His unfailing love and kindness. It is the love of Christ Jesus as we pray who will comfort the brokenhearted as they struggle through their pain, and carry them through their struggles.
In our daily lives we come into contact with people whose hearts are breaking, people whose hearts are discouraged and have given up hope. We as followers of Christ, being recipients of His wondrous grace to be led by His spirit, see their troubles and grief respond in love as they cry out.
As we encounter people who are hurting, we are given the opportunity to help them find the love of God in Christ, that they also might find joy in Him, for it is His joy that is our strength, and His love gives peace and hope. He will heal the brokenhearted and gather them into His bosom, no matter what they’re going through.
I published the following story 2 years ago and found myself in a similar situation recently. When I first published the story I was heavily criticized by some readers for praying with a Muslim to the God of Abraham. I remain however committed to my belief that in all circumstances I will share the love of Christ as the opportunity arises, and in different circumstances as Paul wrote be all things to all men. There is but one God, and it is my desire for those who I share my faith with that they may see Him as I do and worship Him in spirit and in truth. It is the Spirit of God that brings conviction, as the Son of God brings forgiveness as we pray to the Father in His name. Men and women of all walks of life and of all faiths and religions should always see the love of God in Christ in us as we as believers reach out to them in love. We should set aside all prejudice, judgment and simply love them, pray with them, comfort them and let God do the rest. Saying all this . . . I share my story.
I was driving today and decided I wanted a coke with peanuts in it, it’s a 70s thing. So I pulled into a convenience store where I knew the owner. I went to a store that I have been in a few times. The owner is Ibrahim, whom I know on a first name basis as we talk from time to time when I go into store. He is from Syria, and I speak pretty good Arabic so I go into his store to polish up on my language skills when I can.
My Father was a missionary to Mexico so I was bi-lingual in English and Spanish even as a small child. I have traveled extensively in the Middle East in my oil business ventures and with a friend Khalid from Palestine. I have learned a lot about Arabic culture and speak Arabic decently enough, and have even preached in a Chaldean church in Baghdad. I enjoy the opportunity to speak Arabic when I get the opportunity as I have not traveled to the Middle East in some time.
Anyhow, back to the story. I walk into the store and say to him marhaba, which means hello in Arabic. We exchange small talk and I get my Coke-Cola and some peanuts pour my peanuts into my Coke, and we stand exchanging small talk for a few minutes. As I look to my left, down the hall, toward the office I see an elderly man sitting in a chair, his head buried in his hands, his elbows resting on his thighs, and he is weeping.
I ignore him at first but after 5 or 10 minutes I keep looking at him and he is still weeping into his hands. I say to Ibrahim, Shufi mafi, meaning what’s up or what’s wrong. He tells me that the man in the hallway is his uncle, and he is weeping because he buried his wife after 52 years of marriage, two days ago. He is hanging out in the store to be around family, as his brother and his nephews run the store.
I immediately feel something inside me urging me, wanting to pray for Him. I watched my grandmother mourn deeply in pain, after my grandfather died. I ask Ibrahim to please introduce me to his uncle. I introduce myself and we speak in Arabic as he does not speak any English. I tell him that I am sorry for his loss and I explain to him that I am a Christian, but I would like to pray with him. He tells me “I am Mahmud, I am Muslim, not Christian”. I then ask him if he is the seed of Abraham. He indicates to me that he is. I ask him in Arabic if he serves the God of Abraham. He tells me he does. I tell him that I too serve the God of Abraham, and I would consider it an honor to pray to the God of Abraham with him for comfort. He indicates that he is too distraught to pray, and that he is uncomfortable having a Christian pray with him.
Ibrahim indicates to his uncle that I am a friend so he allows me to pray for him. At first I pray in Arabic, in prayers that are familiar to him as his sits looking at me. But I need to talk to God, in words that I cannot explain in Arabic, so I began to speak in English and Ibrahim begins to interpret for his uncle. As I pray I feel God in the very depth of me, and the Him reaching out to Mahmud in love. I place my hand on his shoulder and pray for God to comfort him and to bring healing to his shattered and broken heart. As I pray he reaches out and takes my hand and we began to pray together, at first I am praying in English, he is praying in Arabic, but after a few seconds we are both praying in Arabic. We are praying to God, acknowledging his greatness, accepting His mercy and thanking Him for His goodness and asking Him for mercy for a broken heart. A Muslim….A Christian…and we are praying the same prayer, word for word. He is weeping, I am weeping…and we are saying together Alhamdulillah, which means thank God, and we do thank Him, together.
Mahmud grabs and hugs my neck and he says to me, ana b’hebbak akhi, which means I love you brother, and I tell him that I love him too. And at that moment, I knew ….this is the power and love of God which transcends every race, every creed, ever culture. God is God, and no matter what religion, what race, if we can reach out to others sharing the love of God, our lives will be changed. Today changed my life, today changed Mahmud, and Ibrahim’s life, and regardless of the circumstance, the love of God was shared, doors were opened and lives were changed.
I pray that God opens more doors like this in my future, as I believe it is my calling to share my faith with those who do not believe in God as I do. I long for opportunities to share with others in need the love of Christ, the power of His resurrection and comfort of His grace. Ibrahim and Mahmud and I share different theological differences. They believe that they should share their interpretation of God with me that, I might be converted, as I do with them. And so it goes, but today, I met a Muslim, a man in need. He met a Christian who believes in Christ as my Redeemer, who has religious views different from Him, and we prayed and wept together.
In the end, God being God heard a prayer, showed mercy and love, and for a minute there was not a Muslim, not a Christian, but two men earnestly praying before God, together. I pray the Lord opens more doors of opportunity for the love of God in Christ Jesus to be expressed in my life, as today was one of the greatest blessings in my life. Today I met a Muslim, and gained a friend, may the Lord be glorified.
1 Chronicles 16:11 – Look to the Lord and his strength; seek His face always.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 – Pray continually
- Our Great Comforter: You Never Let Go (atruediscipleofchrist.wordpress.com)
- God is Teaching Me (hipfellows.wordpress.com)
- “I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (worryisuseless.wordpress.com)