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October 8, 1992

Are You Listening?

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You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry. PSALM 10:17
Because the world is filled with wickedness, it also is filled with the afflicted. People are hurting. People are poor, financially and in spirit. As long as there are people who abuse, there will be people who suffer abuse.
Often this suffering is obvious. We see orphaned children in Romania. We see the hungry in Africa. We see families displaced from their homes by disease or natural disaster. We see mothers and fathers crying in the courthouse because the person who murdered their child was set free on a technicality. We only need to read the newspaper or watch the evening newscast to see obvious suffering.
But what about the suffering that is all around us, suffering that might be hard to spot or, if we recognize it, easy to avoid? Think about the number of people you come in contact with on a daily basis. How many of them are in pain? In the busyness of your day, how eager are you to reach out to them? Are you willing to stop what you’re doing—trusting that God will be there for you so that you can be there for someone else?
God’s example is clear: He listens to the cry of the afflicted, and He encourages them. Sometimes He provides practical and noticeable relief. At other times, He says, as He told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9). If we are to follow His example, then we have no excuse for turning away from people who need us. Even if we can’t directly solve their problems, we can listen, and we can encourage. And if they see Christ in that listening and in that encouragement, then perhaps they will embrace His grace.

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