by Emily Conrad

A mechanical whir woke me just before 3 AM. As I listened to determine if the noise emanated from within the house, the furnace shut off, and with it, the noise ceased.

I couldn’t sleep in the silence. The furnace is old and for these last months, I’ve taken comfort in its rumblings, each sound meaning it was hanging in there. But this whirring was not the reliable rumble I’d come to appreciate. Twenty minutes and a few normal-sounding cycles of the furnace later, I smelled something hot.

I went to the basement to investigate, realized the furnace either had quit or really ought to, and woke my husband, my mechanical knowledge exhausted.

Though I recognized something was wrong, I was helpless to fix it. Thankfully, my husband diagnosed the issue. The part will arrive tomorrow.

In the meantime, the furnace is not the only problem I recognize but cannot fix.

Hearts, too, seem to be losing their warmth in the long night. This time of year, especially, it seems, but in other seasons, too. I hear it in person, over Skype, in emails, on social media, and in hesitant silences (some of them my own). Voices whir differently than they would if all were well. We shiver for different things, for home, relationship, community, employment, meaning, worth, healing, and love. We each try but can’t produce heat.

Who can we wake?

Not Jesus. He is already awake; He never closed His eyes in the first place. He has already diagnosed the issue, our great needs. He meets them Himself, but there is a part He’s ordered: each of us.

We are just the part He ordered for those around us, individuals who make up a larger whole, meant to work together to produce warmth.

But how, when we have exhausted our knowledge long before finding a solution?

Perhaps the warmth doesn’t come from the solutions we have in mind. Perhaps it comes from a listening ear. From a nod of understanding. Perhaps it comes from encouraging each other to continually seek, to not give up.

From the reminder that though we haven’t felt the fire recently (or yet), we will. Things may be broken now, but Jesus will not leave them that way, nor will He leave us to fend for ourselves in the meantime.

What is a meaningful way a friend has warmed you during a cold season?

When we face #heartaches we can’t fix, perhaps there’s something we can do via @emilyrconrad #lifteachotherup