Helping the Hurting
As one studies the New Testament, it would be difficult to avoid the conclusion that Jesus spent a great deal of time meeting physical needs of those he connected with. In many occasions Jesus used the opportunity to heal a person physically as an open door in their spiritual healing. There are other times when he healed the physically impaired simply for the sake of healing them. There are numerous examples of individuals being healed physically by Christ. Matthew eight records several healings of Christ, a leper, the servant of a centurion, and the mother-in-law of Peter.
There is no indication the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law was connected with a salvation experience, neither was the healing of the servant of the centurion or the leper. In other circumstances, healings were directly related to an opportunity to forgive people of their sins. Such is the case in a healing recorded in Matthew nine: Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city. And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic: Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven. (Matthew 9:1-2)
In another instance Christ used a miraculous healing as a teaching opportunity to the scribes and Pharisees, showing them what is really important. He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand: Get up and come forward! And he said to them: Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill? But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man: Stretch out your hand. And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. (Mark 3:1-5)
These examples remind me how important it is for us to acknowledge the opportunities to minister to those who are experiencing a health crisis in our world today. Doing so presents the same kind of results we find in scripture: opportunities to encourage those struggling with health crises, opportunities to share the gospel as we minister to those who are facing health challenges, and opportunities for people to experience the power of God as they journey through a season of health crisis. I can share from personal experience how God can use others to share the love of God to the hurting.
Every human either has faced, is currently facing, or will face some kind of physical/health challenge. For the past few weeks, I have had my own health challenge. I am battling asthma and chronic bronchial inflammation. This health condition is not serious, but one that has sidelined me from feeling my best. One evening two weeks ago, I arrived home to find a container of chicken noodle soup sitting on the counter. As wonderful as my wife is, her schedule as a teacher did not provide her with the time to make homemade chicken noodle soup. I know she would have been more than willing to complete that task given the opportunity. The soup was given by a member of our faith family completely unsolicited. This person had not been asked to provide this blessing. The gift of the soup was simply a demonstration of their heart to help a hurting member of our faith family. It made a significant impression on our family.
I cannot begin to share how encouraging and impactful that simple gesture was and how it seemed to facilitate progress in my recovering process. This was also a personal reminder to me how important it is for us to be sensitive to the physical needs of those around us. And it is a reminder how meeting those needs (sometimes in the most simple and easy manner) can open the door to further ministry. I am reminded how often Christ used the need for someone to be healed to connect with them personally.
I hope this personal story stimulates us to think how we can take advantage of such opportunities. And as I share this encouraging exhortation, I am reminded of several members of our faith family who could currently benefit from a helping hand. Allow me to share just one: Matthew Cox is a young 24 year-old man suffering from a serious health condition, one that will require 50 to 100 blood transfusions in the upcoming weeks and months. As a part of his church family, we have an opportunity to help this hurting family, by making a donation of platelets on his behalf. Can you imagine the impact we could have, not only on his family, but the medical personnel treating Matt if our faith family turned out in force to donate platelets? Becoming a part of an outreach ministry to the Cox family is as simple as calling 404-459-8477, ext. 1150 and arranging a time to make a donation.
We can only speculate the ministry opportunities that might arise from meeting this one physical need. As a recent recipient of unsolicited love and support, I am convinced that the best way I can show my appreciation toward those who generously helped me when I was hurting is to respond in like manner.