We were talking about God and the way he works on our behalf in a kid’s Bible class recently and one sweet kid sat on the edge of the seat. This child wants to go home but instead they go to someone else’s house everyday. It’s a good place but not what they want. The grief of what used to be is too much and leads us to pray each time we’re together for God to fix what’s broken in this young life. They just want to be with mom. Not the mom they are used to or the mom authorities had to remove them from. They want to be home with a healthy, happy, safe mom.
After we talked about the fact that God is for us and takes care of us, this sweet kid with teary eyes came to me quietly, took me by the arm, and asked, “But what if God doesn’t?”
I knew what those words meant. I remember losing my dad over Christmas break when I was in fourth grade and while my friends talked of their Christmas presents when we returned to school, my mind was on my father’s funeral. As a teen, I remember getting the phone call with the news of my mother’s death. The nights I spent asking why and finally accepting the fact that the why isn’t mine to know are countless. But I knew I needed something to say to the kid standing in front of me, so I silently prayed and offered a meager, “He wants to.” We hugged and the bell rang. And I was left alone with the reminder of how hurtful sin is, not only to adults but to the children around us.
What do we do when we feel as if God has forgotten us? And just as difficult, how do we deal with those in our lives who allow their brokenness to cause our own? It’s a difficult lesson when you’re an adult and nearly impossible for children but it’s happening all around us. Church, we have a responsibility to help those struggling.
If God has gotten you through the dark valley, tell people! The church needs more God stories. People are starving to hear from Christians who have overcome trials by the power of God. Encourage sharing by creating avenues for people to talk about their journey. Take every opportunity to tell how God has rescued you.
Love the church.
We know the sad and frustrating stories of the many times Church has gotten love wrong. But the times she has gotten love right (and they outweigh the others) need to be celebrated. The church has enough critics. She needs more cheerleaders. Support her. Love her. Tell others about the good she has done and continues to do. Remember you’re an ambassador of the Christ. Your words and deeds should reflect your calling.
We find healing from our past by the way we love and care for those in our present. Seek out those who are on the fringes of society. Reach out to the poor, oppressed, and unheard and love them. Listen to their stories. Make friends. Support your church’s outreach ministry and if you don’t have one, start one. Volunteer in the children’s ministry. Show them Jesus. Sit with those who sit alone. Service is not only a command, it is the key to our own healing.
Seek God’s face.
There’s a great verse in Colossians 3 that says to set your mind on things above. We tend to gloss over that verse but it is powerful. If we set our minds on the sadness, drama, darkness, and evil that permeates this world, we will be consumed by it. But if we resolve to see our Father through our struggles, we will have the strength to persevere. Spend time in the Gospels getting to know Jesus. Pray for the people around you. Practice loving your enemies and being for those you disagree with.
Fear has a way of telling us we’re alone but God is here, sitting with us in our grief, singing over us as we weep. Even if it seems he doesn’t care, he passionately does. God is for us. He wants the best for our lives and is working on our behalf. He did in the beginning. He did when we sabotaged ourselves in the garden. He did on the cross and he will when he wipes away every tear.
I have no doubt that God deeply loves that sweet kid as much as he dearly loves the child’s broken, addicted mother. Church, he expects us to go out of our way to show them both how much.