Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Testimony of the Repaired

     “Deep calls unto deep,” said the writer of Psalm 42 as he was begging God for comfort in the midst of his despair. The word "deep" means "abyss." It can be a literal geographical location, but it can also be that place in one's heart where chaos and emptiness overwhelms.  One translation reads, “Hollow howlings hang in the air."
     There have been times when the deepest things in me cried out, too. Sometimes, God filled  the abyss Himself. Sometimes, He answered by connecting the hollow“deep” within me to the “deep” within others that was once hollow as well, but which He had filled.
     My experience has been this: God knows the best help for the despairing comes from those who understand. Jesus' presence on earth showed us that God understands human existence because God himself experienced life on earth.  In the same way, our experiences give us a window into the lives of others so that we have an opportunity to walk with them through hard times.  Practially speaking, this means God will match "deep" with "deep."  
  • Recovery groups are headed up by people who have gone through (or are going through) the recovery process.
  • Divorce Care class is headed by people who have experienced the pain of broken families.
  • The best budgeting advice comes from people who had Ramen Noodles and water the whole way through college.
  • The best marriage advice comes from people whose marriage has been through the fire.
  • In the aftermath of my father’s death, I received the most comfort from others who were equally fatherless.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Seeing the Broken

"One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 
Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him."  - Acts 3

We all know what is like to be crippled.

In this case, the disciples saw a man who was literally crippled, but there is more than one way to have your legs knocked out from under you. Sometimes it can be a very real physical infirmity; sometimes it is an emotional one – depression, anger, lust, greed, grief – that robs you of your ability to function. Sometimes it is addictions the break us. Sometimes other people do things to us that cripple us through abuse, heartache, broken families and failed relationships.

In the kingdom of God, we should never just walk past the broken, because Jesus didn’t walk by us. Peter and John, acting as representatives of Jesus, saw the man and helped him. Jesus wasn’t around in the same way he had been not so long before, but He had empowered others to carry on His work with His power.