Humans have a natural tendency to be conflicted over many things in life, and if you are spiritual, the inability to help those you care for and love can be most distressing. Imagine a small child falling into a deep river and is drowning, you are nearby and see it all but cannot swim, there is no one in sight to whom you can request assistance and you are helpless to give that kid any help whatsoever. Imagine a more painful situation; the young child is your offspring and therefore your responsibility. How deep must be the pain, when with every fibre, you want to help but are unable to do so.
The real, everyday world does this to caring people the world over, and no matter how often it happens the scars of such failures are as raw and excruciating as ever.
We will do well to remember that there are many caring people all over the world. After all most religions are strong on caring for people even if that caring is sometimes limited to those of their own faith tradition.
Christians are no exception since we care greatly for people, but even so we care most of all for those of the household of faith, not because we are partial but rather because it is natural to favour those who are on your side and are pulling in the same direction.
Helplessness, or at any rate, the feeling of helplessness is one of life's most frustrating challenges.
Think of the greatest, wisest and most powerful person ever to walk this earth and, would you believe it, he was frustrated just the same way some of us are.
Of course I am referring to Jesus Christ.
Here is Jesus, specially sent to first rescue the Jews from their damnation and eventual separation from God and here is what he says:
" O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." (Matthew 23:37-39)
Notice Jesus' frustration embodied in the following phrases:
"...how often would I"; meaning Jesus tried repeatedly with little success.
"...and ye would not"; signifying that the Jews were unrepentant and sceptical.
"...your house is left ...desolate"; suggesting a grim future for these people.
"...shall not see me henceforth"; implying hopelessness without a change of heart.
Not even Jesus could manufacture a favourable outcome even though he so much wanted it. This tells us that because an outcome is most desirable it does not necessarily follow that beneficiary want it, much less than such an outcome will emerge.
Because this world is so topsy-turvy you cannot rely on the norms to be unfailingly applied. Remember what Jesus said, "If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?" (Luke 11:11-12)
Today the dynamics are different for with parents killing their children, with parents deliberately starving their children to death, with parents selling their offspring and a raft of child abuse and neglect cases before the courts then the application of norms are willy-nilly.
Believers who are agonising over their apparent helplessness will find it beneficial to do some remembering.
Remember the whole WORLD will NOT be saved
Believers think wrong when they assume that God sent Jesus Christ to save the whole world and even if one soul is lost that shows that God has failed. While this kind of thinking dominates certain circles it is patently absurd.
It is true that God wants everyone to be saved, and yes the whole world can be saved, but humans are inherently contrary and no matter how good the plan of salvation some will reject it and go their own way. This is the very essence of our freewill.
Some will be lost, not because God does not want them, but because they have freely chosen to go on the broad highway, away from God, away from all that God has in store for those that love and want him and they suffer all the consequences of their choice. It is needful that believers remember this as they survey the current travails of humanity.
Remember to do YOUR duty
People confuse duty with results and believers are no exception. It is the believer's duty to do some very important things and to do them sincerely and in the right spirit.
Believers are to shine, radiate light and warmth to all, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
Believers are to be like salt, protecting from insipidness and preserving from destruction and degradation morally, spiritually and otherwise, "Ye are the salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:13)
Believers are to be watchmen, looking always toward heaven and telling humanity what he sees, just like Ezekiel, and give timely warning, "So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me." (Ezekiel 33:7)
There is nothing more satisfying that at the end of our Christian journey to affirm that we have done our duty like Paul did, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith (1 Timothy 4:7) remembering that our duty is to God and also our fellowman.
Remember that it is up to GOD as always
Effort does not always produce the kind of results we expect and in truth sometimes we do not see any results at all and we are very disappointed and get frustrated. Believers should remember that the results following our effort may not be readily apparent but that does not mean they are not real. The truth is that it is only in the hereafter that we may know what fruits our efforts have borne. And even more important it is well to remember the wise observation of Paul, "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." (1 Corinthians 3:6)
Remember ALL GOD'S CHILDREN will be saved
There is much we need to understand about predestination but what we can say for sure is that God, by his unique foreknowledge, knows all of those who will be saved and has made provision for them.
Regardless of how we interpret some scriptures, it is abundantly clear that all those who are truly saved, those who are born again and in Christ will endure all that come their way and emerge successfully in God's eternal kingdom. No sincere, committed Christian will be lost because, on becoming saved, they are sealed by the Holy Spirit, "...in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." (Ephesians 1:13) In case some are still pondering the matter Paul added this, "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30)
Jesus Christ himself put it like this, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37-39) Jesus affirms here that ALL the Father has given him has eternal security and we know from other scriptures that that is the Father's will, "And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." (John 6:39)
Following on from this should lead no one to the conclusion that we should not try very hard or care so much, thinking that in the end, whatever is to be will be. Lack of sympathy is not part of the Christian makeup nor can we ever see something offensive and not have a humane reaction.
Paul reflected the Christian's approach to these matters when he said, "...I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." (1 Corinthians 9:22) and later Jude expressed the same godly concern in these words, "And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.(Jude 1:23-24)
The truth is that if you really want to help the best thing you can do is to submit yourself fully to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and let him guide you daily as you walk in the light. Yes, it is good to know relevant techniques and have religious training and experience and a relish for helping your fellow man but to be filled with the Holy Spirit is the most important.
When all else fails, the gloom is not lifted, the pain of rejection is as bitter as gall and the nation seems to be rocketing to hell on steroids, then just remember these powerful words of the Prophet Zechariah, "...Your help will not come from your own strength and power. No, your help will come from my Spirit.." (Zechariah 4:6 Easy-to-Read Version)
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013