For When We are Much In Need {Part I}

It’s a new week and I could not be happier to say goodbye to the previous two. July ended with all kinds of angst. From Colorado’s tragedy, to the spilling of the blogosphere applecart, to family pain, and a husband’s work crisis, even Chick-fil-A got in on the action.  Goodbye, July.

If only new months were really fresh slates and new days were refreshed in all ways. No need to fix what problems you can, just wait them out. If you’ve lived a day, then you know life is not like that; the do nothing policy may be easier, emotionally safest, but it is rarely effective.

What do you do though when there’s little that you really can do?  I cannot fix the problem at my hubby’s work. Pretty certain I am not going to be the one to switch on the “ah-ha” light bulb for those arguing the hermeneutical sides of the egalitarian/complimentarian debate. I can’t restore a relationship that is broken. I can’t bring back loved ones who went out to a movie and will never return home.

I feel helpless and frustrated by all that needs to be set straight. We—my family, the Church, the world—are much in need.

The Apostle Paul addressed a similar sentiment when he wrote to the believers in Thessalonica. Their world too had much in need of being set straight.  His words have been encouraging me and shaping my heart to keep its hope set on Christ. My tendency is to drown in the problem. Paul offers a better way.

Paul’s counsel for your much in need moment:

#1. Appreciate those who are working hard on your behalf (I Thessalonians 5:12). Critique has become the language of the day. The church culture and the blogging culture have one thing in common: they are both excellent at analyzing someone else’s problems. What would happen if we took that energy and diverted it to appreciation?

This exhortation tells me two important facts about the reality of hardship: 1) We are never in it alone—there are others whose diligence will be of benefit to us. 2) No matter what the crisis, by God’s grace someone has been positioned to equip and empower us to stand strong. Maybe it will be the “official elders” of our church, but my experience says that it’s more likely that there is someone who has faced a similar situation and is prepared to offer you the comfort they have received. Will you have eyes to see them as a source of God’s presence in your crisis?   

When we are much in need, our hearts are strengthened by appreciating those on whom we can count on to remain diligent in the Lord.

#2. Live in peace (I Thessalonians 5:13). Much in need moments are ripe for trivial conflict. Tensions are high, resources are low. It doesn’t take much to turn on those closest to you.

Sometimes when I read this words, it feels like Paul is saying, “Don’t strike out.” Well, that’s not very helpful. What do I need to know in order to actually hit the ball?  {And let’s be honest, “living in peace” is life’s baseball equivalent to being in the batter’s box. Odds are stacked against you, balls will be thrown at you, and everyone staring at you is committed to you not being successful.}

In Mark 9:50, Jesus speaks of peaceful living in the context of saltiness. “Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” {What? Huh? This is getting more confusing!} Here’s what I think: Salt is a preservative, a flavor additive, and a softening agent. Our “saltiness” comes from Jesus—He alone preserves us. He alone helps us be palatable to others. He alone keeps our hearts supple, soft to His work. When Jesus works in us, He uses salt. If our eyes are on Him in crisis, conflict with others is minimized.

What is one thing you must know to not strike out? Keep your eye on the ball.

In hardship this means that 1) We must look to Christ alone for the meeting of our deep needs or our profound disappointment with others will end up in some kind of interpersonal warfare. 2) As we look to Christ, He will help us see His work in us and in others. And we know, His work is always good.

When we are much in need, we can remain at peace with others by not expecting them to do or be what only Christ can do or be.

I’ll be continuing this For When You are Much in Need post throughout the week. Stay tuned and practice #1 and #2.

One thought on “For When We are Much In Need {Part I}

  1. Pingback: For When We are Much in Need {Part II} | Once Upon a Truth

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