Feeling Helpless and Blessed in the Face of Need | The Practical Disciple

Feeling Helpless and Blessed in the Face of Need

Yesterday, I got brought past my edge of knowing how to help. I came face to face with several friends with needs that were so overwhelming I really didn’t know what to say or do. One set of friends are new friends. They are a couple who have been attending our church now for a couple of months. Their names are Jack and Deb. I like them. They are here every Sunday and Wednesday. I enjoy conversations with them. They possess one quality that makes them unique from anyone else in our congregation. They are homeless and have been staying at the Salvation Army. They have known for sometime that their time there was limited and they have not been passively waiting.

A few weeks ago, they thought they may be able to find help in Springfield, Missouri. I was going to be driving through there and offered to drive them up, but I wanted to be sure they had a place to land. Several phone calls yielded a pretty bleak picture for them if I were to drop them off in Springfield so we abandoned that plan.

A week ago, they tried to interview for temporary jobs out at the fair. No such luck. Hiring had stopped two days earlier. A day later I hired them for a half a day to do some yard work for me. We normally care for our own yard, but a collision of kid’s schedules made it unlikely to impossible to address our lawn. The couple and I worked together for about a half a day. I gave them a fair wage and lunch and they got me out of a bind. It was a good win/win situation for all of us. I enjoyed working with them.

A few days ago, they heard through the grape vine that they might be able to get work in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Having lived there for nine years I know the directors of two of the agencies that minister to the homeless and needed. I called them and again found a rather bleak picture of no work and no place for them to stay.

Yesterday, their time at the Salvation Army came to an end. I let them put their bags in my office. I am not sure where they stayed last night. We have tapped out our benevolence fund and I am personally feeling like I have hired out about all I can for the moment. May be I am wrong. May be I should do more. I guess I am at my edge of personal giving. This situation is harder than usually. I have come to know them. I have watched them make genuine efforts to change their situation, but to no avail. We have a friendship of sorts. Not a deep one, but I have a connection with them that is more than I typically have with someone in their position.

May be someone is reading this in Texarkana or an adjoining area and has some thoughts on what they might do. Or may be someone in this area needs some odd jobs done. If so, contact me. When they mowed, trimmed and mulched for me, they worked hard and did a good job. I suspect that in the next few days they will hitch hike out of the area and try to find work some place else. I would hate to see them go.

I said that I had several friends with overwhelming need. Last night I had a chat with another friend whose life is pretty much a wreck at the moment. In the past few months she has lost her marriage and wound up with some overwhelming debt. Her story could be your story or my story probably more easily than we care to imagine. She will be losing her home soon and right now doesn’t know what will happen after that. I wanted some miraculous words or ideas that would solve all of her problems. The only thing I could really do is encourage her to hang in there moment by moment and cling really close to God. I also reminder her that she is precious and valuable no matter what her net worth is at the moment. Perhaps, this was enough for the moment.

As I ponder these situations and more (these aren’t the only people I know in rather dire situations) I feel a profound inadequacy. I question whether I am doing enough. I am praying for them and know that God may and can move in their situations in ways that I can’t imagine. It’s in these moments I realize that ultimately we are always in God’s hands and shouldn’t take that for granted. So today I have both prayers of gratitude and prayers of deep concern for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am almost painfully aware of the abundance in my life and a touch of shame for ever complaining about anything. Take time today to count your blessings.

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  • Dear Practical Disciple,

    God is perfect and His time is perfect.
    I read a devotional this morning by Charles Spurgeon on the heels of reading this post.
    “For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.” – Ezra 8:22

    A convoy on many accounts would have been desirable for the pilgrim band, but a holy shame-facedness would not allow Ezra to seek one. He feared lest the heathen king should think his professions of faith in God to be mere hypocrisy, or imagine that the God of Israel was not able to preserve his own worshippers. He could not bring his mind to lean on an arm of flesh in a matter so evidently of the Lord, and therefore the caravan set out with no visible protection, guarded by him who is the sword and shield of his people. It is to be feared that few believers feel this holy jealousy for God; even those who in a measure walk by faith, occasionally mar the lustre of their life by craving aid from man. It is a most blessed thing to have no props and no buttresses, but to stand upright on the Rock of Ages, upheld by the Lord alone. Would any believers seek state endowments for their Church, if they remembered that the Lord is dishonoured by their asking Caesar’s aid? as if the Lord could not supply the needs of his own cause! Should we run so hastily to friends and relations for assistance, if we remembered that the Lord is magnified by our implicit reliance upon his solitary arm? My soul, wait thou only upon God. “But,” says one, “are not means to be used?” Assuredly they are; but our fault seldom lies in their neglect: far more frequently it springs out of foolishly believing in them instead of believing in God. Few run too far in neglecting the creature’s arm; but very many sin greatly in making too much of it. Learn, dear reader, to glorify the Lord by leaving means untried, if by using them thou wouldst dishonour the name of the Lord.” By Charles Spurgeon.

    My take-away – it is not by human arm that one prevails over circumstances. Use the assistance and generosity of people, just don’t make too much of it. Praise and Glory be to God! May our trust always be in Him. Amen.

    May you be blessed.

    Martha D 8 years ago

  • Hey there John, this is quite a sad set of circumstances you and your friends find yourselves in.
    I am obviously not a pastor but i learnt something very liberating in a class I took one time
    I want to try and leave you with one more thing. The parable of the good samaritan mainly vs 30 – 35

    In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

    Now the man that this samaritan helped obviously needed it, and the samaritan did his best… but it doesnt say that the samaritan found the robbers and returned his belongings to the man, and it doesnt say that he helped him find a home after his stay at the inn, it doesnt say he found him a job or clothes.
    He did his best to help that man, but there was so much left to be done
    But he did what he could do.

    God doesnt ask us to be God and to care for every need of everyone. He asks us to do all that we can, no more no less.
    I know what it can feel like to have the world on your shoulders and then have 20 other peoples worlds on your shoudlers.
    But God doesnt want that for you, im not saying dont help.
    Mother T said if you cant feed a hundred people… feed one

    Your doing good work

    Trent Hohaia 8 years ago

  • @Trent. Thank you so much. Since writing my post God has been moving in some big ways with these folks. We have been able to arrange housing for upto 2 months and food assistance through that period. We are going to see what can be done about finding some public assistance and/or work next. I also have a lead on a program in a neighboring community. Bit by bit God is moving.

    admin 8 years ago

  • @Martha. I love Spurgeon. Thanks for the feedback. I’ll sit with this in prayer and see how it fits with our situation here. I know and am trusting that God is moving in both of these situations.

    admin 8 years ago

  • Counting your blessings and showing gratitude are some of the most important things you can do. I have read psychology studies that show how they improve mental health and happiness.

    Steven H 8 years ago

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