Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Used By God
HOW CAN I HELP?
In the first church I pastored, I had opportunity to help a lot of different people through a lot of different struggles of life. Most of that kind of a pastor’s work is pretty invisible in private conversations at all sorts of hours. There is in 2 Corinthians a pretty profound passage that makes a good guide for anyone willing to be used by God. It’s found in 1:3-4 and says (in NASB)—
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Sometimes I would end up attempting to help individuals going through the throes of divorce. As I had little experience, I did the best I knew how, and, looking back, some things I did pretty well, and some of my assistance was probably was way off base. But one of the smartest things I did is something that any of you reading could do as well. I applied the principle given in the passage above; I would find another individual in my church who had experienced divorce, and ask them to be a friend and mentor to my parishioner going through divorce at the time. When I went through my own divorce and learned so much from others who had experienced it as well, I realized how good the to make partners had been.
As I took advantage of a nearby DivorceCare ministry, I encountered again the experience of learning myself from more individuals who had experienced the trauma of divorce. The shortcoming, though, was that the support was merely a few weeks long, while the struggles from divorce continued for a much longer period. I came to the conclusion that God could use the same principle in my life and help fill the gap I had experienced if I put together some personal and relevant devotions for others going through divorce that would provide support for an entire year. Hence the birth of Finding God in the Seasons of Divorce, Vols 1-2.
I would encourage you examine your own life. What are the areas in which God has encouraged, helped or ministered to you, and then ask yourself how you could pass along that those encouragements to others now going through a similar experience. Not everyone will share the support in the same way. But the principle can be applied in lots of different ways.
For example, if my books have been helpful in your life or the life of someone you know, you can make a practice of purchasing copies for others you know going through divorce. You could also choose to provide copies to your pastor so that he or she can have them at hand to help parishioners who turn to them for support and godly counsel. (I would have been thrilled to have something like those books available for my use in my first pastorate!) The same thing is true of my latest book to encourage those doing Caregiving…who do you know that could benefit from it? Those are a couple of tangible actions you could do. But there are so many more.
No matter what you have gone through in life, whether it be financial reversal, grief and mourning, the devastation of serious illness and subsequent bills…whatever, if you would but open yourself up to the opportunities, there are people somewhere around you who need what you have to offer, because of your experience. God does the bulk of his work through human beings willing to give of themselves. In fact, one could almost read the passage from 2 Corinthians to say that the main reason God gives us the comfort and encouragement we need in tough times is so that we can pass it on to others!
Have you mistakenly hoarded the comfort and encouragement God has sent your way? Have you allowed yourself to become oblivious to the multitudes around you needing the help and hope that YOU are an expert in? I invite you to reach out and become part of something bigger than yourself. You will find, as I have, that you are amazed at how God can use what little you have to offer to make life better for someone else.