We often wonder how we should respond to those who are suffering so that they are helped.
We learn from the best; we learn from Jesus. He steps into the crisis moments of lives. The chaos and noise never deter Him. He encounters the suffering and sin of this world and has staying power; He calls us to do the same. Let us consider what that was like for Him so that we might follow him into the lives He brings before us.
Leave the Familiar
Jesus left His world of beauty, safety, and comfort, (John 6:38). He left perfect love for hatred, order for chaos, beauty for ugliness, and light for darkness. We must leave what is familiar, ordered, predictable, and comfortable in order to help those in a crisis.
Jesus became lowly. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He is eternal, immortal, and infinite. He reduced Himself in power, impact, words and potential to help, (Philippians 2:6-7). When we enter a crisis we must become lowly. We cannot swoop in, tell people what to do, and take over. We need to become lowly and enter in, in small doses so we can truly listen and understand and be touched by their infirmities. If we have never been hurt or abused like the person we are ministering to we do not know what that kind of life is like. Enter in, listen, be with them, observe and learn.
Enter the Darkness
Jesus left glory and entered the darkness and dwelt in the unfamiliar. We enter into another person’s suffering and we want to drag them into our world. We want them to think and choose what we would choose, to understand what we see. We want them to get over their depression, sorrow, or grief and leave it behind. Those are not bad goals, but we can only get people there by entering into their world, going into it and get them so we can bring them out. We must go in to them and sit with them and listen and understand, little by little so that we can walk them toward a new place.
Don’t Get Lost
Jesus was not lost in the darkness, (John 1:5). He came into our darkness and sat down bearing a character full of grace and truth. Light of truth can start to dawn on the hurting as they see grace and truth lived out in front of them. People do not need knowledge about the character of God; they need an actual demonstration of it lived out in us. People who are depressed do not need statements about hope; they need us to hope for them when they can’t lift their heads.
Do Not Abandon
Jesus left glory, entered our darkness, and did not run, even when facing the cross. He wanted to run, He was overwhelmed by what He faced, but He did not abandon humanity (Luke 22:42). He did not leave us alone in our mess, He will not leave us now.
We will want to abandon. There will be one phone call too many, one backward step too many. We will want a life free of crisis. But the love of God does not abandon us. We start off well with good intentions but we do not always have staying power. We have a hard time staying connected in the crisis, so we abandon those who have no choice about the suffering in their lives. They cannot abandon the suffering and so must endure it alone. Our Lord does not abandon.
It is Not Contagious
Jesus did not sin, even when He suffered with our suffering, (Hebrews 4:15). He never allowed the darkness, evil, and chaos to destroy Him. He entered into the sickness and He did not become sick. How do we not become twisted up, crippled by an ongoing exposure to suffering, sin, and evil?
Staying power means having the ability to endure. To endure is to hold out against, sustain without impairment, to bear with patience. It is only as we come to Him and drink deeply that we can endure in carrying living water to dry and thirsty places.
The Lord’s Servants
If we are ministering to the suffering we must remember we do God’s work with Him. It is His work with His people and we are not our own. We are servants of the Redeemer. If it is His work the results are always His and we do not need to demand certain outcomes.
It is not only His work that we do with Him but it is His work done for Him. We are the Lord’s servants. If we work as if for the suffering, then we will be governed by them. Their needs will rule us and we will end up in their chaos.
God calls us to His work and He alters us for His work. As we bow to the work of the Spirit in us, exposing and calling us to repentance, then we will truly be able to go out and carry grace to those in need.
As we go out into the world of the abused and hurting we must take with us the words of the Crucified One, who calls Himself the resurrection and the life. Hate what He hates, not just in this world but in ourselves as well.
What keeps you from having staying power?