It was a powerful and bold declaration that the Prince of Peace is present in the middle of our suffering.
At the beginning of the message, he asked us to write down on a piece of paper our hurt; and at the close, he invited us to come lay those burdens down at the alter. The invitation was more than a gesture, but a powerful demonstration of how we can literally cast our cares upon him because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
This was an invitation to live out Matthew 11:28, “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'” (NLT)
I knew my hurt. As the worship began I sang songs of worship and adoration, but it was through tears. My daddy has been sick. And he is suffering. And some weeks, church is just hard, in part, because his greatest desire is to be a servant of Jesus’ church. It’s been his whole life and on Sundays when he can’t be there, I know his soul is hurting.
As I went to lay my hurt on the altar, I felt compelled to kneel down and pray for my daddy and for peace for my own heart. And while I believe that Jesus met me at that altar, I felt exposed. I was struggling to not be a dripping, crying mess. I desperately wanted to get up and hide.
And before I could run, the comfort of God showed up.
Almost instantly, a friend knelt to my left and grabbed my hand – a friend who has lost her own daddy and knows the hurt of watching someone she loves suffer.
Then came a friend behind me, with hands covering me. This friend has walked her own hard road of suffering this past year. She is intimately acquainted with sickness and the valley of the shadow of death and she has seen Jesus heal.
A third friend came and knelt at my right. She is a friend who knows my heart so well that she already knew my need. She boldly began praying peace and comfort over my heart and healing over my dad.
I was quickly overwhelmed with the very real presence of the Holy Spirit and the comfort that he brings.
Scripture declares in John 14:18, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (NLT)
Friends, His word is true. His love is real and His comfort is a promise. Lean into Jesus with your hurt. Share it with him. Share it with a friend. Invite his peace and his presence into your life. It’s the sweetest exchange you’ll ever know.