To Everything There Is A Season

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven

A blog about raising a young family and keeping Christ at the center of it.

The Cyrs

The Cyrs
Photo Credit: Rachel Dewhurst

Friday, April 7, 2017

A Time to Uplift

Photo Credit:Kristina Smith
The idea of being a vessel that God can use to build up other people is not a new idea; it's not even a new idea here on the blog. If you've been following this blog for any amount of time you know that I am passionate about encouraging and building up others! The Bible is clear that we are to walk along side one another, bearing each other's burdens and investing in the lives of those around us. We are a selfish people though so this doesn't come as easily or readily as we sometimes wish it would.

Have you ever been around someone who you would swear it costs them money to offer up a word of encouragement, to give a hug or even smile at you? I have and it can be so incredibly disheartening when you are in need of love, kindness, compassion, empathy, etc. and the person you find yourself with in the moment or the people you are surrounded by in life have clearly given themselves a limit on how many positive words and actions they can extend that day, month or year! Thankfully I serve a God who is available to all those who will call on Him, and he is the perfect comfort in times of need. BUT, just because He is always there and just because He is the one we should be turning to first does not mean that the rest of human kind is off the hook when it comes to this ministry of encouragement.
("Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." ~Gal. 6:2

Those of us who live in Maine were saddened today to hear about one of our meteorologists who was found to have committed suicide. It is incredibly sad anytime we hear of someone succumbing to the depths of their despair and taking their own life, whether they are a local "celebrity", a family member or the neighbor we hardly thought of...and it happens daily. This affects not just adults but youth as well. In one of my counseling classes we learned that every 24 hours an estimated 6 teens will commit suicide; about 1500 will make an attempt! People of all ages are broken and they are desperate for healing. People who are struggling begin to reach for anything that will anesthetize the pain and emptiness. And sometimes the only option they feel they have is to end their life. Many Christians will say and have said that, "if only they knew Christ this wouldn't have happened." While I agree a life in Christ, surrendered to the one who can make all things new is a great first step to healing, it is NOT a cure. Christ-followers are just as capable of deep depression and despair as someone who has no relationship with Christ because sin still exists in us. One of our dear senior saints, who was a Christian and who was a member of our church for many, many years took his own life a few years ago. So, please, don't be so insensitive and ignorant of the issue as to insist that if a person only had a relationship with Christ, these things wouldn't happen. It's not true and its an incredibly dangerous and discouraging mindset.

I believe every single person on any given day needs to be uplifted. And God uses us to be ministers of  His love and compassion so we do have a responsibility to make sure we are building up those around us. I want to make it clear that I know suicide is a desperate last move to put an end to the pain and suffering and it in no way compares to someone who is having a "bad day". Depression and a "bad day" are very different and we need wisdom from God to know the difference. That being said, we are surrounded with people who are suffering on so many different levels and they often suffer silently and alone because they are embarrassed, they don't want to be a burden or they feel many around them are too busy to be bothered to help them. To be uplifting, or to "build up" or "bear one another's burdens" is FREE! It costs you nothing except time to offer words of encouragement, a listening ear or to visit with someone who needs a friend and "time"...time belongs to God. Each minute we are allowed to continue living on this earth is ordered by God. He controls our beginning and our end so we have no right to behave selfishly with time that is given to us as a gift. We are all busy with so many things but we need to make sure that we are not so busy that we can't take time to minister to someone who is hurting or discouraged. Sometimes all it takes is a "word fitly spoken" (Prov. 25:11) to bring someone up out of a bad day.

So what is the practical application to all of this? I'm glad you asked! Educate yourself on the signs of depression, first of all. Depression is a real thing and it exists among Christians and non-Christians alike. Know the signs and be ready to offer help to someone who is showing signs of depression. This is an area I feel the church is neglecting, some are even ignoring but its prevalent, which means it is needful to understand and know how to help those who are suffering. Not everyone who is down is depressed though and this is where wisdom comes in. Make it a point to pray and ask God to show you who is in need of being uplifted and then listen to His leading. I promise you each one of you reading this will have contact with at LEAST one person today who would benefit from a compliment, a text asking  how they are doing, a card in the mail, a phone call, a hug or a smile or maybe even a visit. Not sure where to start? Start at home. Who do you live with and what do you think they could use from you? Family members are often the most overlooked when it comes to building up and yet they are the ones God gave to don't neglect them. Then look to your neighbors, your church family, co-workers, the cashier at the grocery store or the lady at the post office. People are everywhere and they need to be uplifted. Start today being a vessel God can use to minister to those who are hurting.

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Time to Sit

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

~Psalm 147:3

Yesterday was the Super Bowl and as a New England girl, my family and I woke up happy this morning! I am not a football fan by any means but I do enjoy the Super Bowl and I enjoy it more because my boys love football, so for them, I suffer through! Someone else who loved football and the Patriots was my grandfather. He and my grandmother would watch the games together and she tells me stories of how she would sit as close to him as possible so he could explain the game to her. As I was preparing food for the Super Bowl party we were having I got to thinking of my grandmother and how she'd likely be watching the game alone so I called her. During our conversation she told me a story and it touched me.

My grandparents always went to church together but since my grandfather's passing my grandmother has found it difficult to go to church alone. Yesterday was the first Sunday she went to church alone, and she sat alone, in the pew she and my grandfather always sat in. There is a lady, (she calls her a young girl, haha, but the lady is in her 60's), who has always sat behind them, alone also because her friend is hard of hearing and sits in a special room where she can hear better. My grandmother said she has always been fond of this girl and they talk at church on Sunday's when they see each other. This past Sunday, the lady had to sit in front of Memere because someone was sitting in her usual spot. At one point the lady turned and said hello to my grandmother. They began talking and Memere said that as she was leaving she turned to the lady and simply said, "Next week, you'll sit with me, ok?" The lady indicated that she would and Memere went home. 

I don't know who this lady is and I am sure she has no idea what that simple indication meant for my grandmother. For my grandmother it means that maybe next week sitting through the church service might not be so difficult, because she will have a friend sitting with her. Then it got me thinking of all the widows and widowers we have in our church. We have an aging congregation and we have lost many of our senior saints over the years, which means we have several who sit alone. Our children are social beings who just love people and they have become very close and attached to several in our church. Every Sunday they ask us if they can sit with a certain person and most of the time, I say yes. The reason is that for my boys, the ones they are asking to sit with are men who have lost their wives or their wife is too ill to attend most services so they are alone. At first I felt bad because I didn't want my children to be a burden. Then one service, one of the gentlemen came up to me and thanked me for allowing my son to sit with him and said it touched him so much that my child would want to sit with him so he wouldn't be alone....because when this gentlemen asked my son why he always chose to sit with him my son answered, "because you're alone and I don't want you to be lonely". 

I think sometimes we overlook the simple ministries our children can have in their church, in their neighborhood and in their community. Because we have allowed our children to sit with these different people, our children are so much more comfortable talking and holding conversations with people in our church and our community. They get to build relationships with people who are full of wisdom and who share their past with our kids. My boys love hearing stories about who these men were when they were younger and they are eager to share it with us on the car ride home. One of the gentlemen so enjoys helping one of my younger ones find the right page in the song book or the right place in their Bible. Not only are they not sitting alone but they get to feel as though they have a purpose and a ministry to our family. 

I could be more selfish with my family and insist that we all sit together in church so that people can see us all together but you know, I much prefer allowing my kids to minister to those who find themselves sitting alone at church and giving them the opportunity to build relationships with them. That blesses me as a parent, it blesses my kids and it blesses those around us. I am thankful for promises in God's Word like we find in Psalm where it says that "He heals the broken in heart..." because there is comfort in knowing that God cares about our pain and our sadness and our loneliness and He provides for those needs. God has provided for my grandmother's need of not sitting alone in church by give my grandmother the courage to ask this lady to sit with her and for giving the lady compassion enough to say she would! God is so good and he is always working on taking care of our needs, long before we even realize we will have that need. 

Sometimes we need to stop running long enough to see if God might be asking us to be the means by which He will heal the brokenhearted, those whose spirits are low or those who find themselves anxious or depressed. There are people all around us who have needs. Are we willing to leave the comfort of our little bubble in order to show God's love to other's by sitting with someone who is alone? It could be at church, at a kids concert at school, at a conference, at a restaurant...people are alone and lonely everywhere; we just need to care enough to see them.