A few weeks ago, I read this blog post about the wheat storage program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This paragraph in the post stuck out to me.
"How can each of us help relieve suffering in our own communities? When you glean a handful of time for a friend who needs to talk, you are following in this tradition. When you collect cans for the local food pantry, or teach your children to support each other’s dreams and goals, or donate to the Humanitarian Fund to feed others you are continuing the tradition of Relief Society wheat. Our contributions may look slightly different from that of our foremothers who gleaned fields and filled granaries, but the purpose is the same: to relieve suffering, to cooperate for good causes, to offer something substantial to those who are hungry."
As I read, my eyes were drawn to the phrase “relieve suffering.” I felt deep in my heart that that was something I wanted to do. I began including in my prayers opportunities to “relieve suffering.”
At this time in my life, I don’t have the flexibility to volunteer outside of my home with a local food bank or community organization. My life revolves around the schedule of a 10-month-old boy, who I can hear banging toys against his crib right now, even though it’s naptime. I knew there were other ways I could serve my local community, and I prayed for God to open my eyes.
I live about five minutes from Wal-Mart, and I seem to find myself there at least once a week. As I leave Wal-Mart and head home, I drive past a 7-Eleven, and outside that 7-Eleven is a homeless man who sits with a sign requesting assistance. He is always there; no matter what time of day or what day of the week. A couple weeks ago, I had the thought that I should pick him up something to eat while I was in Wal-Mart. Of course, I forgot once in the store. I drove past him on my way out and felt a small twinge of guilt (just like the hundred other times I’ve driven past him). However, this guilt didn’t motivate me to act as my mind quickly shifted to matters of my own life and what was on my to-do list. The next time I was there though, I remembered my desire to pick something up for him and I did.
Today I went to Wal-Mart, and once again I saw this man. As I left, I drove past him and I had the thought that I needed to get him something cold to eat or drink (it’s over 90 degrees outside today). Immediately, I somewhat begrudgingly thought to myself, “This man is always sitting here, am I going to have to pick him up something every time I come to the store?” Two thoughts came to my mind almost simultaneously. The first, “relieve suffering.” And the second, “Christ extends His hand of mercy to me over and over again. There is no limit to His grace, and there should be no limit to mine.” So, I offered a silent prayer of repentance, and I made my way to Wendy’s, where I picked up this man a frosty and a cup of ice.
This experience today reminded me that God answers prayers. He gave me the eyes to see a way I could “relieve suffering” in my own community. I’ve driven past this homeless man likely over 100 times, but it wasn’t until I offered a prayer asking God to help me see how I could “relive suffering” that I was encouraged through the Holy Spirit to take action and help this man.
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