Hope in Action

Rain poured and flooded hundreds of homes this week near where I live. I watched with a dropped jaw as the news stations showed footage of people floating down streets in desks and on air mattresses in an attempt to escape the rising water. The cost of damage and death tolls were estimated by the experts together in a single breath.

Today families are staring at soggy piles of what used to be their belongings while others are grieving the loss of their loved one. Everyone knew the rain was coming. No one expected this level of devastation.

Our hearts are heavy for those brothers and sisters in our own church who are experiencing loss as their houses filled with over 3 feet of water. One family’s house caught fire after being struck by lightening and so, today they are weeding through burnt remains.

In this moment of sorrow, we see the Spirit of God directing his children to love, serve, strengthen, encourage and care for one another. Hands and feet rush in to remove damaged furniture and tear out sheetrock that is covered with bacteria now that the water has receded. Food is brought in. Hugs are shared

There is no arguing about who is more gifted to do which task. Everyone rolls up their sleeves and does the work that needs to be done. The wealthy and the poor carry couches and washing machines out together. There is no distinction, pride or shame. Everyone is working together to do what they can to help each other. The devastation that exists in this broken world results in a unity between people that nothing else can accomplish. God uses what was meant for evil for His gospel purpose. We glimpse the kingdom of God as His people jump into action.

The bride of Christ is at her most radiant in these moments of hardship. She shimmers with hope in ways that allows many to see the goodness of God in the worst of times. And it is happening all over the world. As earthquakes are shattering lives in Ecuador and Japan, and 100 million people in India are also surviving floods, the people of God are stepping up and helping out. And it is truly beautiful to see.

But it is not just on these most difficult of days that the people of God are called upon to respond. The truth is that devastation happens daily, but not usually on epic scales such as these. Often times, devastation is small and can happen without anyone knowing that help is needed.

The damage of a lost marriage, lost finances, lost faith, or a lost dream can occur in whispers. Devastation is swept under the rug along with all of the other broken pieces of life before anyone else can notice it. These are the times when the bride of Christ still has the opportunity to shine with the radiance of her Groom’s love, if she will but make the effort to see the need for help and respond, even when the notice is small.

I’ll be honest. It is not hard to rearrange a schedule to lend a helping hand when the crisis is huge like it has been this week. There is no question about whether or not I will drop whatever I have going on to jump in and help. The need is huge and the damage is overwhelming for literally thousands of people. But, I may pause and consider the inconvenience of a less epic crisis. My desire to remain safe in my own routine is astonishing and embarrassing, and to do so is to misuse the freedom that the Gospel has given us, and the command to love and serve one another.

“For you were called to freedom, brother. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

There are many who are overwhelmed daily, and the damage is epic, maybe not to thousands, but certainly to that one. And we must use our resources to serve them freely.

It is admittedly harder to see the obvious need in some situations. It requires a slower step and time spent building a closer relationship. One has to have spent time in community with a person in order to know when to ask the hard questions of, “What do you need?” and “How can I help?” This is one reason why community with others is vital to our faith. We cannot offer or receive help if we have not allowed ourselves to be known and taken the time to know others.

For you today, Mama, I ask you to consider a few questions. Who is in a personally devastating crisis today that you know, and what do you have to offer them?

Maybe you don’t think you have any resources to offer, but remember that oftentimes the kingdom of God shows up in small, mustard seed type ways. Sometimes it is a small light on a hill that helps the lost find their way, or bit of salt that brings the flavor of life to those starving for hope. It may be something as simple as a meal dropped off, some free childcare so a new momma can grab a much needed nap, or simply a cup of coffee and a listening ear. It doesn’t have to be epic to warrant our time and energy. It just needs to be done in the name of Christ, for his purposes and for his glory.

My prayer for you today is that you will have eyes to see the need closest to you, perhaps even the one right under your nose in the shape of that little one who has no reserves in asking for help! I pray that if today you are overwhelmed by your own devastating crisis, you will find the courage to ask the people of God for help. I pray that today we, the bride of Christ, will do the work of the ministry that we have been equipped by our pastors to do.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 ESV

“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness…” Isaiah 58:9-10 NLT