Heart Pains

Recently, I was in the hospital emergency department because I was having heart pains.  I had such intense pain that it was all I could think about.  The pain was so bad I could not sleep.  After 48 hours of this intensity, I went for help.  It was an unnerving and very difficult experience on so many levels.  Without the hope and help of Jesus, I am not sure how that day would have turned out.  And then, just six days later, I was back in the emergency department with more pain elsewhere and another concerning situation.  And even though the situations seemed to be about me, I don’t really believe that they were.  Each of those experiences became something special, orchestrated by the hand of God.

While I sat in the waiting room dealing with my heart pain, I looked across the crowd, and my heart was pained in a whole other way. I saw suffering and agony all around me. In addition to the physical ailments and wounds, there was loneliness, fatigue, anger, frustration, impatience, disagreement, unkind speech, and tears were being shed. Some thoughts struck me as I looked across the room into the eyes of these hurting souls.  I wondered if this was what it was like when Jesus looked across the crowds that surrounded Him.  People came from every quarter, bringing themselves and others for help. He was moved with compassion for them as sheep who did not have a shepherd.  And He began to meet their needs.1   He did not come to be served but to serve and ultimately to give His life as a ransom for many.2  What would He think if He were sitting here beside me in the waiting room?  What would He do?  Did I do what He would have done? 

Jesus saw the pain in the hearts of the people around Him.  He knew of their fears and failures, their foibles and follies.  He knew of their sins: past, present, and future.  He knew of their doubts and hypocrisy, criticism and wickedness.  And He offered Himself to all and for all.3  And here we are today, with all kinds of pain in our hearts, but the remedy is always the same: Him.  If it is physical pain, He is the Great Physician. If it is spiritual pain, He is the Great Savior. If it is emotional pain, He is the Great Comforter. If it is relational pain, He is the Great Reconciler. If it is mental pain, He is the Great Omniscient One. 

So, when we are in the emergency department, or anywhere else, in fact, the eyes we look into belong to those Jesus loves, those for whom He gave His life.  Are we pouring out the love of Christ for them?  Are we able to shift our focus from the pain in our own hearts to the pain others carry in theirs?  Can we cause something different to begin to take place wherever it is that we are?  Can we move from focusing on the physical to focusing on the spiritual and what it is we can do to help and comfort others?  When we are compassionate, we sympathetically look on the suffering of others and desire to remove it.  Our hearts are tender and caring, gently and kindly reaching out to offer assistance. It is a beautiful experience to be able to step into the lives of these hurting people—to offer them words of comfort, to offer them physical assistance, to share helpful information, to direct them or assist them to the places where they need to go, to encourage them by offering prayer, to speak for the voiceless, to listen to their stories and hearts, and more.   

So, although I was in the emergency department for heart pains and other issues, I was no longer there for me, I was there for them, the people in the room with me.  And really, isn’t that why we are on this earth?  We are not here for ourselves, but for them.  We are the hands and feet of Christ until He returns to set all things right.  We are here not to look out for our own interests but for the interests of others.4  This is what truly matters because they are who truly matter.  They matter to God. 

So, let your heart feel the pains of compassion because hearts are pained. Give them help.  Give them hope.  Give them Jesus.


1 See Matthew 9:35–36.

2 See Mark 10:45.

3 See John 12:32.

4 See Philippians 2:4.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, February 20, 2022

The Son

My son got married last week!  What a joyous occasion!  It was a beautiful ceremony, and it was a beautiful thing to watch my son.  As he stood before me, I saw two people: my baby and a mature young man.  He moved about the day with love, joy, kindness, calmness, and patience.  I was impressed by his demeanor and impressed by his actions.  The words that came out of his mouth were words of love and grace.  As a mother, I was very proud of him.

Recently, I had an encounter with two other sons.  I had a medical appointment in the city, and I tacked on some errands afterward.  As I drove, I saw a homeless person sitting on a street corner and felt I needed to get him some groceries.  I went to a nearby store and bought a few items; however, when I got back to the corner, he was gone.  I drove around the area for a little while looking for him, but he was nowhere to be seen.  I placed the bag of groceries on the front seat of my car—in case I encountered anyone else in need—and continued on with my errands.  As I began to make my way out of the city and head toward home, I felt prompted in my spirit to stop at a particular fast-food restaurant.  I decided I would order a cinnamon roll.  A teenaged boy stepped forward to the counter to take my order.  I asked how his day was going, and he told me he had been busy.  He had just finished mopping the floors and was scurrying around taking and filling orders.  For some reason, my cinnamon roll was quite delayed.  I stood waiting for about ten minutes.  As I waited, I observed this same young man doing task after task: helping at the front counter, helping his coworkers with filling drive-thru orders, taking orders outside to customers in the parking lot, etc.  He moved quickly.  I imagined this was how things were for my own son, a few years older, working at another fast-food restaurant.  I was impressed at this young man’s diligence and demeanor.  I determined that when he finally brought me my food, he was going to hear some words of encouragement from my lips.  As I continued to wait, a woman in regular clothes walked behind the counter and began talking with the employees.  She was still there when the young man brought my order to me.  I asked if I could speak with him for a moment.  I proceeded to tell him what a great job he was doing and how impressed I was.  At that moment, the woman spoke up and said, “That’s what a manager likes to hear.”  Once I realized who she was, I proceeded to fill her in on how this young man had behaved.  I imagined his parents would be proud of him.

I then proceeded out to my car and messaged my husband that I was now beginning my twenty-five-minute drive home.  As I backed out of my parking spot, a man entered the dimly lit parking lot.  I observed him looking around on the ground as if he had lost something.  I drove up next to him and asked what he was looking for.  He said he was looking for money and then asked if I could spare fifty cents.  I told him city regulations did not permit me to hand him money, but I had a bag of groceries I could give him if he desired.  He accepted the groceries, thanked me, and continued wandering in the parking lot as I drove away.  My heart couldn’t stand it.  I turned my car around and went back to the restaurant.  I parked and got out of my car, calling out to the man.  He approached me, and I offered to buy him some dinner.  I estimate he was about thirty years old, but his current appearance caused him to look much older.  He was filthy and disheveled.  He was hungry.  He was homeless.  I thought about my safety for a moment.  I thought about my husband awaiting my return home.  I thought about what this man needed.  I pulled out a pen and paper and wrote down the details of his order: a special-order burger, a cinnamon roll, and a flavored coffee.  I went back into the restaurant and was waited on by the same young man from earlier.  As he took my order, he apologized for how long he had kept me waiting when I had come in earlier for the cinnamon roll!  He quickly filled my order, and I headed back out into the parking lot where the homeless man continued to wander around, looking for coins on the ground.  I gave him his meal and spent a few minutes talking with him.  He told me that people who came through the parking lot usually were not very nice to him.  I told him that God cared about him and had arranged for me to meet him that night.  I told him that I don’t even live in that city.  I told him the story about why I had the bag of groceries I had given him.  He was surprised by that.  I then asked if I could pray for him about anything.  He said he wanted his mom to know he loved her.  We said our goodbyes and parted ways. 

As I drove home, I thought about the two sons and their mothers: how proud one must be and how the other one must be missing her son terribly.  The first young man reminded me of my son.  I realized the second young man could have been my son.  My heart was proud and broken at the same time.

People go through their daily lives looking different on the outside, experiencing different things on the inside, yet they are all in need of the same things: love, hope, kindness, respect, and an introduction to the Savior of the world.  How do we treat these people?  Do we favor some over others?  At that restaurant, both of those men were valuable, created by the hand of God; and yet, both get treated poorly.  Customers are sometimes not nice to the employees who are doing the best they can to wait on them.  People are sometimes not nice to the homeless.  But these sons have value because of the Son. God fashioned each person and sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for all.  How do we treat this Son?  Do we love Him in return, or do we scorn Him, turning our backs on Him?  Do we fully give our hearts and lives to Him, or do we keep them for ourselves?  We were created for a relationship with Him.  We have the option and opportunity to pursue that course for our lives.  And when we give our lives to the Son of God, we can then be a channel of His love, being faithful to all God has appointed us to do. 

Love the Son, and love the sons.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, 

and love your neighbor as yourself.1


1 From Luke 10:27

Scripture taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, November 14, 2021

CHAPTER 6  Lost and Found

While we are on the topic of Advent and shepherds, here is an excerpt about the most amazing Shepherd of all. This is an excerpt taken from my book No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose.
Webite header image with full title - Copy (2)

We lose all sorts of things in life: money, homes, jobs, loved ones, health, quality of life, and sometimes even life itself. We also find all sorts of things: happiness, the loves of our lives, the perfect jobs, and sometimes even our car keys. But have we ever found the most important thing, the thing that we can never lose: the salvation of our eternal souls?

There were specific events for which Jesus came to live on earth. He was given an invitation by His Father to be the Savior of the world, and He responded favorably to the invitation. He prepared for the event of saving the world by His first advent: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). During the course of His ministry, Jesus clarified why He came and why He did not come. He came to preach, to call sinners to repentance, and to save lives (see Mark 1:38, 2:17; Luke 9:56). Jesus came into many cities, and He came in with the intent to minister (Mark 10:45).

As Jesus traveled around, He gave people His time, and He gave them Himself. He did not blow through town like a whirlwind, forcing and rushing His way through. While He was going along His way, He focused His time and attention on the people He encountered. He sometimes spent all day healing the crowds although He could have done it in a single moment with a single word. He saw that the crowds were like sheep without a shepherd, and thus, had compassion on them (Mark 6:34). He gave people His personal touch. He asked them of their faith, asked what they wanted and needed, and took time to encourage them. And then the healing came.

… The underlying reason why Jesus lived like He did was that He came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He came unto us! He did not come for Himself and His benefit, but for us and our benefit. Jesus offered life and help to the people He encountered during His lifetime on earth, and His offer still stands today. Let the love of Jesus find you, wherever it is that you are in life. Let Him shepherd your wandering heart and lead you safely to your eternal home.

Jesus is not only our Shepherd but also our High Priest, the Mediator between us and God (1 Tim. 2:5). Because He is holy, He was able to victoriously do away with our sin by dying on the cross for us. And because He did this for us and then was resurrected from the dead, we can overcome sin and emerge victorious through His power. His sacrifice gives us access to His Father, His power, and His kingdom. Jesus calls each of us to salvation. The wonderful truth is that the lost sheep (us) can be claimed if they want to be claimed! When we come, we will discover that we are welcomed, loved, and valued. Jesus came for us–will we come to Him?

All of the preparations for us to be found have been made, and the barriers that would separate us from God were removed when they were broken down at the cross. We now need to make our way over to His side, walking past those broken barriers instead of repairing them. A simple yes will do. The fighting in our hearts can stop and we can be at peace, if only we will come. We can stop wandering aimlessly through life like lost
sheep. We can instead let Him minister to us, heal us, and save us. That is what He came to do, and we are who He came to find.

Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 63-64.

Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version.