Encouragement and FaithPurpose and FaithRelationships and FaithSuffering and Faith

Last week our two daughters, accompanied by our two older grandkids and a few friends, led a small group to South Texas to help some families hit hardest by the recent hurricanes. They shared much-needed supplies they had collected and offered their encouragements.

I’m sure those they visited in their homes were blessed. But, from listening to our kids, they personally got more out of it than the ones they helped. Isn’t that the way it always is?

The headlines to The Washington Post article on our South Texas crisis was, “Probably the Worst Disaster in Texas History.” Reading the dozens of stories and seeing hundreds of photos posted on the horrific damage and people’s personal pain just cannot communicate what we experience when we hold hands with those in pain. There is a fascinating, two-way transformative power in being “hands-on.”

When we leave the comfort of our daily routine and participate in someone else’s suffering, something happens inside us that’s impossible to explain or ever fully describe. It’s so deeply satisfying that we know it’s more than just warm, fuzzy feelings. We sense it’s a God-thing.

I’ve seen it time and again. Until we get “hands-on,” we just don’t get it. We cannot see that having good thoughts, feeling sympathy for people who suffer, and talking about their plight make little or no difference in us or for them.

One-way Jesus taught us to personally experience the mystery of spiritual transformation, that miraculous change within us that only God can do, was to have compassion. The word com-passion literally means to come alongside someone and suffer with them. It’s being “hands-on” in Jesus’ name.

We are proud of our kids for demonstrating that kind of hands-on faith last week. But more importantly, we know our Lord Jesus is proud. After all, he didn’t say “Feel sorrow for those who suffer.” He said, “Come, follow me. If someone is thirsty, give them something to drink.” To put it simply, I think he was saying, “If you really mean it, get hands-on.”