A Lesson from the Elephants

by Crystal Bowman

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Romans 12:15 ESV

My husband and I were away on a weekend business trip and found ourselves with free time on a Friday evening. As we drove through town looking for something interesting to do, the local museum advertised a showing of Elephants in Africa in their state-of-the-art IMAX theater. We parked our car, bought tickets, and then entered the massive theater with a wrap-around screen and surround-sound audio.

The National Geographic-type film documented the day-by-day experiences of a clan of African elephants as they moved from one place to another in search of water and food. As we watched from the center of the theater, we felt like we were in the middle of the jungle with the camera crew!

Since elephants can walk within hours of birth, a newborn calf ambled on wobbly legs closely behind his mother. As weeks passed, the baby grew larger and stronger and began playful interaction with the other elephants. After a while, however, food and water became scarce, and the calf grew weaker and weaker until it toppled over and died. The mama used her powerful trunk to poke and prod her baby to help him stand up. When her efforts failed, she realized his fate and stood over him, refusing to move as she mourned. During her time of grieving, all the female elephants from the clan surrounded her and stayed by her side for three days until she was ready to travel.

I couldn’t help but see this as a beautiful picture of friendship and caring for those who are hurting. We often don’t know what to do when someone we know is grieving. In our best efforts we may offer a meal, some encouraging words, or a small gift. But perhaps the best thing we can do for someone is to just be there.

Galatians 6:2 (NIV) says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” What is the law of Christ? The answer is found in Mark 12:30-31 (ESV), “‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And in John 15:12 (ASV) we read more words of Jesus, “This is my commandment that you love one another, even as I have loved you.”

Loving your neighbor, friend, sibling, or anyone else in your social circle is not always easy, and sometimes it takes a sacrifice of time to be there for them. But being with someone in their time of need speaks volumes even if we say nothing.

Our current pandemic makes it more challenging than ever to be physically with someone who is hurting, but modern technology allows face-to-face connection with iPhone, Skype, and Zoom. When a long-distance friend of mine lost her husband recently, the Holy Spirit prompted me to call her to see how she was doing. We talked for more than an hour, and she said my call was exactly what she needed that day.

Comforting a friend who is going through a difficult time—whether it’s a divorce, the loss of a loved one, a rebellious child, or something else—is not an easy thing to do. But I have learned a lesson from the friends of that mama elephant. When a friend needs me, I’ll just be there!

Lord, help me to be intentional about reaching out to a friend who is hurting. Help me to weep with those who weep so I can love others the way you love me. Amen 

This article is brought to you by the Advance Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Practically speaking, what do you do to carry someone’s burden?

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Have a God Day

by Crystal Bowman

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.                                                                                     
Psalm 5:3 NIV

For several years I was prayer partners with two mutual friends. Every Monday morning, we would email each other to share our personal requests and praises. We had a deep level of trust and could share whatever was on our hearts. Prayer requests for health issues, difficult decisions, and the challenges of raising kids filled the content of our emails.

Knowing we were praying for each other and our families created a unique bond of friendship. We prayed through countless doctors’ appointments, business meetings, parenting difficulties, extended family concerns, and more. Anything and everything could be shared with no rules or boundaries other than confidentiality.

As the months and years went by, we carried each other’s burdens and celebrated each answered prayer. We truly lived out the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:15 (ESV):  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

One Monday morning, as I finished typing my email, I closed with a typo. Instead of saying, “Have a good day” I typed, “Have a God day.” My friends responded with delight, assuming my closure was intentional rather than a typo. We all had a good laugh, but from then on, we always ended our prayer emails with “Have a God day.”

I have come to love that phrase, even though its origin was a typo. I’ve thought about what it  means to have a God day. We often ask God to be with us throughout the day, but the truth is that He already is. Rather than asking God to be with me, I’ve learned to pray, “God, make me more aware of your presence.” If I begin my day with prayer or reading God’s words in Scripture, I am aware of His presence. When I look at the glory of a morning sunrise or hear the melody of cheerful birds, I acknowledge my Creator. As I face my to-do list, I ask God to give me the wisdom and energy to accomplish  my tasks. As I think about my loved ones, I ask God to give them health, strength, and protection for the day.

King David lived in full awareness of God’s presence. Many of his Psalms are songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. In Psalm 19:1-4 (NIV), he writes: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. David recognized that all of creation basks in the fullness of God’s presence and shouts His name. If God’s creation acknowledges and praises Him day after day, how much more should we, who are created in His image, live in daily union with Him.

The more we communicate with God throughout the day with praise and admiration, the more we will be reminded of His continual presence. And when we give Him our requests and concerns, we can eagerly anticipate His answers. God is with us all day, every day. May we live in a greater awareness of dwelling in Him.

Have a God day!

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Have a God Day – encouragement from a typo – Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Crystal BowmanAbout the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids. She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

Ten percent of women struggle with infertility. Mothers In Waiting—Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms contains 30 hope-filled stories from contributors like Valorie Burton, Katie Norris, and Shay Shull, whose journeys through infertility and miscarriage to adoption and miracle births will buoy your faith. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Join the conversation: How had you noticed God’s presence today?