Coming alongside people can be messy.
Loving people is pretty much always messy.
Entering into someone else’s pain is messy.
As we get older, especially when we have kids, sometimes we just escape. We want to protect our kids from painful situations- from ugly truths- from raw and uncontrollable.
We want to provide a shelter and haven from the world and the ugly realities that it holds.
We don’t want them to see the mess.
Life got really messy for me when I started my practicums for my counseling degree. I had never spent any time in a courthouse- and had never been in a courtroom before working at the Domestic Violence Office. I attended court 3 days a week and did intake forms with women who had been abused emotionally and physically- my heart broke.
I had never seen the raw ugliness of what human beings are capable of doing to each other.
It changed me forever.
My next practicum was at a Crisis Pregnancy Center. After I graduated I got a job working full time with pregnant teens at a 24 hour treatment facility- the girls lived there for around a year on average.
I still remember my first days there- the girls were all sizing me up- trying to find my buttons- to see how they could hurt and manipulate me. Many of them seeking power anywhere they could find it-even in hate.
It was one of the first times in my life where I saw how profoundly God’s love can touch a life that has never seen it in action. Love that keeps no record of wrongs but just keeps on loving time after time, day after day.
It is humbling to be used by God to simply love- to come alongside- to enter into the messiness and embrace someone in all their pain and sorrow.
As Christians, we are called to enter into the messiness of this world. To meet people right where they are- in the thick of trouble- and love them.
To fight for them, to be a voice for the voiceless, to show mercy when others turn a blind eye.
Have you ever burned with righteous anger against those who have no fear of God?
Have you ever prayed for God’s justice to come down and consume those who glory in doing evil?
I have. I do.
There are times when I cling to the verse- Vengeance in mine, I will repay, says the Lord. I read in Romans…and God gives me the strength to continue to serve.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
It is hard to look into the eyes of a parent that you know has abused their child. I can remember my hands clinching in anger– wanting to protect the girls I had come to love with every fiber of my being.
In all the messiness, I found incredible comfort in our God who loves justice.
But sometimes there are no easy answers. When we sent a girl back into an abusive situation- my heart would ache, I cried many tears, said hundreds of prayers.
I believe God hears our cries on behalf of those who are suffering unjustly. As we enter into pain with others, God enters also.
Have you ever loaned money to someone who could not repay you?
Have you ever inconvenienced yourself on behalf of someone else?
Have you sacrificed comfort to come alongside someone when they needed support?
Have you sacrificially given to support a cause you are passionate about?
If you have never done these things- you are missing out on rich blessings that are ours in Christ.
We are never more like our Savior than when we are sacrificially serving where He has called us. When we are in the trenches with those experiencing pain and misery- loving them and helping to meet their needs through the power of our Lord working through us.
We are judged by God when we turn away from the cries of those being oppressed. When we ignore the needs right before our eyes in our own community.
10 If you faint in the day of adversity,
your strength is small.
11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
12 If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?
We are called to defend the defenseless, to reach out in love and come alongside those in pain and anguish.
Will you pray? Ask God to show you where to serve?
Will you obey and go where He calls you? Serve in the messiness of this world?
Oh God, break our hearts. May we truly enter into the pain of others and love them in the midst of their messiness. Give us a heart like yours- eager to pour out love and mercy on those around us. May our hands be ready to serve and our hearts hungry for opportunities to be poured out as a fragrant offering in service of our Lord and Savior. May we have compassion on those in pain- see them in their lost state and eagerly long for their reconciliation with you. Lord, give us the courage to obey your call- recognizing in humility the God we serve can turn our sacrifice into blessing. We pray this in the power of our Holy God- to Him all Glory and Praise belongs forever and ever. Amen.