08 October 2016

our response.

I generally flee from controversy.  I HATE confrontation, hot topics, passionate debate...oh man.  I am the girl staring at her hands in the corner wishing I could melt into the floor.  I just want us all to agree and get along and be at peace.

So, I'm not going to get into anything crazy.

But I do want to say a short (yes, I know you don't believe me when I say short ) word about responding in times of need.

Haiti is (and always is, frankly, but especially now) in a time of need.

But I'm not just talking about Haiti.  I'm talking about many countries.  I'm talking about refugees.  I'm talking about hurting people.  I'm talking about your best friend dealing with issues in her marriage.  Your husband losing his job.  I'm talking about homelessness, I'm talking about helplessness, I'm talking about your jerk co-worker, our struggling-with-worry neighbor, our children feeling left out at school, our lost friends, our found friends...struggling people.  People in times of need.

Need for peace, need for Jesus, need for food, need for help, need for prayer, need for housing, need for work, need for redemption, need for forgiveness, need for relationship, need for hope.

Can I give a few suggestions for responding?

1.  There is NO situation that needs our response.  

None.  The sooner we get this into our minds, the better.  This crisis does not need me.  This person does not need me.  This situation does not need me.  In fact, Stacey will probably most definitely just make it worse.  

EVERY situation, every hurting person, needs Christ's response.  What the world needs from us today, brothers and sisters, is Christ's response in EVERY situation.

God has GIVEN us His word so that we have countless examples of God's response in light of pain and suffering.  Don't just say amen, here.  We must believe it...there is nothing of ourselves that is capable of making a difference or bringing good.  He is the only response needed, and until OUR response mirrors HIS response, we need to keep it to ourselves.

If I had a nickel for everytime someone has told me that a gift or effort or response was "good enough for Haiti."  

Brothers and sisters, there simply IS NO "good enough for Haiti."

It is not FOR HAITI.  

Our response is not FOR the hurting person, not FOR the hurting country, not FOR the hurting heart.

Our response, Christ-followers, is FOR a mighty and holy and loving God.  

Only responses of Christ, FOR Christ, are good enough...every single time.  In hours of great need, and even in conversations of conflict.


2.  Don't do one thing until it is Spirit led.

OH, this is one of my greatest challenges. I see and experience so much, and my heart is SO quick to lead itself.  I know what to say!  I see something I can do!  I know just the thing.  I am led by me, I am led by emotion, I am led by others, I am led by guilt.

...and so I jump, and 10 hours later, I'm realizing that God might have had a far better for-absolutely- EVERYONE involved idea...if only I had sought it and W-A-I-T-E-D for it. 

Learn discipline with me here.  See the situation, hear the need, feel the feelings.

And then refuse, utterly refuse, to act until you are confident that the Holy Spirit is leading you in a certain direction.  One of the most common ideas and names of the Holy Spirit in God's Word is "The Helper."  THIS IS WHY we HAVE the Holy Spirit.  To HELP.  To help us do and feel and think HIS very best.  

Are we relying on the Helper?  Or are we relying on the human?

How do we know the Holy Spirit's leading?  

In my own life, His leading is usually a thought, Scripture or idea that emerges during prayer that is TOTALLY different than a Stacey thought or idea. If it "comes out of nowhere" and we are in continual prayer and following hard after the Lord, it's usually coming from Him.  

What He is showing me is also confirmed by others or by Scripture.  I frequently pray for the Lord to confirm an idea or Word that I think might be from Him, and He has always been faithful to do so.  Someone will mention, randomly, the exact same thing.  An article will unexpectedly surface speaking the same truth.  My Bible reading for the day says the same thing.

The Holy Spirit's leading is always going to be consistent with Scripture.  He doesn't lead us where the Truth is not.  The Holy Spirit doesn't have different ideas than God's Word...so one way of confirming His leading is to be in the Word, and make sure the Bible confirms it.

Matt says this all the time:  God is a very competent communicator.  When we are waiting and persevering on His voice, His direction (instead of already being a mile into our own plan) will be clear and He will be faithful to communicate with us.  

This is no far off God, people.  Our Living God sees and knows the needs far better than we do...He sees and knows what is needed far beyond human wisdom.

He WILL lead us, if we will refuse to move otherwise.


3.  Let's think a little bit.

All that said, God has also given us a brain for a reason.  I have seen the last several days countless images and articles of wonderful organizations of well-meaning people sending thousands of pounds of rice and oil and foreign food to Haiti.
You are not going to like this part...I hate this part.  But I have to tell you, because it's true.

Can I tell you how many times I have gone to the market and seen everyone selling and buying food with the words: "Not for sale, rescue relief donation" written on it?  In English?

Can I tell you how many times I have experienced people, hungry people, refusing to eat foods they don't recognize?  American foods?  Because they're not Haitian foods?

Worse, can I tell you how many times I have seen people harmed, children harmed, because they received food or gifts?  Seen complete chaos and violence over trying to take free things from each other?  I have handed a small begging child tiny change, only to turn around and see him being pummeled by bigger boys, the money taken, the child left bleeding and empty-handed.  I have seen grown men beating each other violently over a shoebox of toys meant for a small child!

 Can I tell you how many friends we have who sell rice, who sell oil, who sell chickens and shoes and peanut butter and they are left with no customers, NO WAY to support their families, because "help" has sent it all in for free, and now no one will buy from them?

Days after the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, I saw women surrounded by MOUNTAINS of rotting, Haitian produce that NO one would buy because organizations were giving food from other countries away for free.

I stood on that lettuce, friends.  I took this picture.  It CHANGES how you think.

Can I also tell you that everything you read or see online IS NOT TRUE.  This probably goes without saying...your mama told you this...but it is so easy to forget! Seeing it on Facebook or even the news is NOT the same as seeing it, understanding it, or even how it really is.  Though it seems that the truth is so easy to come by these days, just a click away, it is still our responsibility to research and read and search out the truth in what we see.  This is why we ask GOD to guide us, He who KNOWS, not Facebook.  Not media.  Not our friends.  Not even our own emotions.

I'm not saying giving things or money to people is never the right thing to do!  I don't know what it's like everywhere.  I don't know that this is always the case in every situation.  And I do NOT want to be or make anyone cynical, or make us throw up our hands and quit even trying to help, or criticize anyone.  

When we  DO give to those in need, give directly to the hurting people you are in relationship with and know their needs...or give to people or organizations that you trust and know HAVE direct relationships with those in need.  (For example, send financial support to organizations you know, trust, who work with the local people, who have local people on their boards and in their leadership, who have been there prior to the crisis, who will be there far after.)  

We often think about instantly meeting needs  and not about long-term, true HELP for people...what's going to truly HELP lives and situations, beyond right now.  We don't think about what's happening after we walk away, or after the crates leave the shore.

We don't always think about what's going to point people to JESUS.

Stop and think, not just about Haiti, not just about other countries, but about EVERY element of helping ANY person, those people in any kind of need.  IS this solution self-sustaining, long-term, healthy, good, God (not us, not our country) glorifying and the very BEST we can do?  It is our utmost for His highest?

I know sometimes giving in certain ways feels SO GOOD.  But truly helping those in need CANNOT be about what feels good to us.  It has to be about what IS good for the person in need.

Again, God knows what that is, even when we don't, and He WILL guide us, if we ask Him to and wait. 


4.  Don't. Stop.

Responding to those in need is almost NEVER a quick-fix, two second thing.  Your friend going through issues in her marriage is NOT fixed in one coffee-date.  Your hurting co-worker, not solved in one kind card.  Refugees, not redeemed overnight.  Victims of disaster, not fixed with a pack of spaghetti and a granola bar.  

Responding like Christ to those in need is a LIFE WORK, friends.  Discipleship is a life-work.  Help is life-work.  Prayer, precious family, is to be our life work.

Don't. Stop. Praying. 

Don't. Stop. Asking God what to do, how to help, to lead.  

If you're led to do something, do it, your very BEST, until it is complete...even if that means always.  Don't just be picking people and places to pray for based on what we see on Facebook.  If God gives you a clear and heavy burden for a place or person, don't stop praying for them!  Pray for them every day...make praying for them a part of who you are.

Don't stop asking the Holy Spirit to show you, persistently if there is anything He wants you to be doing, and to give you the boldness and love to do it.

Responding well--responding like Jesus--takes great humility, great courage, great pursuit of Christ as the solution.  

We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith, and persevere.  Hebrews 10:39.  

We are IN this for the long road, friends, in all our worlds of need, because He is. Helping well isn't SUPPOSED to be easy...it is why the Bible tells us to take courage so so many times, it's why Jesus shows us how.

Take courage. Love all around you while you Wait on the Lord.  Faithful is He who calls you.  Go, and DO IT.

Praise the Lord we serve a long-run God, with never-ending, never-stopping, never-shrinking love, and that we have a hope, a firm hope, in He who never fails.  

3 comments:

  1. Stacey this needs to go viral on Facebook or something. It's so insightful on a lot of levels. Thanks

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  2. I'm sharing on Facebook!

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  3. Thank you Stace. You got the point, I thought that I was the only one seeing this. Praise God, hope that others will see it and understand it as well.
    Junior your brother

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