Don’t ignore hurting people because you’re uncomfortable

When you think about people suffering, generally I think we dredge up images of orphans in third world countries or the homeless on the streets. And that’s true. Those people are suffering, and they’re everywhere. They need healing in their lives. But those people suffer in obvious ways, hunger and sickness and basic needs.

What about people who have all those things covered and are still hurting? What about your coworker who just lost a loved one? What about that friend at church whose kid has totally screwed up his life? What about that teenager you pass in the hallway whose parents are divorcing? All of those people have their physical needs met, but what about their spiritual needs? What about their emotional needs? How do we handle that?

It’s true that in some cases, what those people are dealing with are consequences from their own choices or circumstances God is using to transform their lives. Regardless of what is happening or how it’s happening or who it’s happening to, you should always ask God how to handle the situation.

In my experience, we treat any type of hurting people like they’re the vagabond on the street corner with the cardboard sign. We notice someone hurting and we change the subject rather than being courageous enough to talk about something that might be uncomfortable for us. And that’s not how Jesus did it.

counsellingToday’s verses are Matthew 4:23-25.

Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all. Large crowds followed him wherever he went—people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River.

Jesus was merciful and compassionate. When He saw people suffering, He wanted to help them. He didn’t hold them at arm’s length. He went out among them and encouraged them to come to Him. How much of that attitude is missing from our own lives?

People came to Jesus to be healed. They weren’t looking for charity. They wanted life, and Jesus had the power to give it to them. He had the power to heal them. Guess what, Christians? He still does. He hasn’t changed, and He still works the same way. And we have the awesome privilege of being the ones who get to stand in for Christ, the people who get to share His life-changing love with those around us.

Jesus is reaching out to heal anyone and everyone who comes to Him. Jesus’ healing may not look like what you think it should, though, so prepare yourself. If you come to Jesus and ask Him to heal you, that means you have to agree to do things His way. That’s the way this works.

And granted, being healed from something doesn’t mean the problem never happened, but it means you don’t have to worry about it anymore. You can be healed from cancer but still bear the scars. You can be part of a relationship that has been healed, but the consequences may still be something you have to deal with–you just won’t deal with it alone.

Jesus is the healer. People call Him the Great Physician because there’s no pain too terrible for Him to take away. Maybe you’re suffering today, Jesus is just waiting for you to call on Him.

And if you’re a Christ-follower and you encounter someone who is looking for hope or healing or restoration, don’t run away. God put that person in your path for a reason. There are no accidents. So don’t backpedal or make up excuses, and don’t preach either, because that won’t help. If someone needs to be healed, take them to Jesus, and leave them with Him.

There’s nobody He can’t restore, and that means there’s always hope, even for those of us who’ve fallen so far short of His plan. The key is coming to Him with our problems, our hurts, and our broken pieces and letting Him put us back together again.

China cups and plates for use at the Pink House at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

You rarely say thank you for the things you expect

Do you know someone who constantly asks you for things? It could be anything. Help with work. Information on a topic of interest. Something personal. Something big. Something small. We all have those people in our lives who ask us for things. And, let’s be honest, it’s kind of nice to be asked for things.

It’s nice to be able to serve as a source of wisdom or intelligence. It’s nice to be considered an expert on something. It makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something, maybe. That’s what it feels like to me–that maybe all the random stuff jangling around in my head has a use.

I like to help people. I like to offer helpful information or funny stories. I like to be the person who has the answers. And I don’t mind being the one who always helps other people. But there are times when I get tired of it. And the one thing all those times have in common is how the person I’m helping responds.

Helping ungrateful people stinks.

You’ve helped an ungrateful person before, haven’t you? You do your best for them. You sacrifice time and effort to help them achieve their goal, and they don’t thank you. Or they don’t even acknowledge that you’ve done anything for them. Or, even if they thank you, they don’t mean it–and you can tell they don’t mean it.

It’s those people I get tired of helping, not because I want attention or adoration but because gratitude is right. But that gets me thinking about my own behavior. Do I thank people when they do nice things for me? Do I make sure they understand how much I appreciate their time and effort on my behalf?

Today’s verses are Luke 17:11-19.

China cups and plates for use at the Pink House at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

China cups and plates for use at the Pink House at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 
He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. 
One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. 
Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”
And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

Do you ever find yourself in that position? Not with leprosy per se but faced with an issue you can’t overcome on your own. You don’t have to search hard for trouble. Trouble just happens naturally, and before you know it, those little troubles can become overwhelming.

That’s when we turn to God. We cry out for God to help us. We make bargains and promises, and most of the time, God does what we ask.

Then what? What do you do when God answers your prayer? How do you react? Are you stunned speechless? Do you stare blankly? Do you throw a party to celebrate? Do you run out and tell everyone about your good luck?

I think that’s what happened with these guys Jesus healed on the road. Ten of them. Lepers. It was a horrible disease that required them to leave their families and live in colonies of similarly infected people. And just like that, Jesus healed them. Nine of them ran off rejoicing. I’m sure they knew what had happened. I’m sure they realized who had healed them. But Jesus is God, right? Isn’t that what He’s supposed to do?

So often I think we jam God and Jesus into this little box. He’s the God of Creation. Yes, nice title. He’s the Maker of Everything. Also nice title. But what can He do for me? God is the Great Physician. The Great Healer. That’s what He does. He brings the dead to life, He forgives sins, He works all things together for our good, yada yada yada.

That’s what we expect from God, isn’t it?

The problem is when you expect something from someone, you don’t feel the need to thank them. You don’t thank a taxi driver for taking you from point a to point b, do you? You don’t thank your barber for cutting your hair? Granted, if you’re polite, you do. But you see where I’m going, don’t you?

Those nine men knew who Jesus was, and they expected Him to heal them. And that’s awesome. If 21st century Christians could grasp that concept, we’d all be a lot better off. They knew who Jesus was and they expected Him to do the impossible. But the one understood something that the nine didn’t.

God doesn’t owe us anything.

You realize that, don’t you? God isn’t beholden to us. We don’t deserve anything He does for us. The prayers He answers He does out of the goodness of His heart, not because He must. He answers our prayers and directs our lives and helps us through difficulty because He wants to.

So if you don’t like helping someone because they don’t show gratitude, how do you think God feels when we treat Him the same way?

Being like the nine is just step one. Recognize who God is. Believe He can do the impossible. Yes. But there’s a difference between expecting Him to do great things and believing you deserve it.

So the next time God does something for you, sure, go celebrate. Go tell everybody about it. Make sure the whole world knows how awesome God is. But before all that, stop. And just say thank you. You don’t have to put on a show. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it. Just thank Him.