In the wake of the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, many people have felt strongly compelled to help. Some donated blood for the injured, some provided free lunches and coffee at their restaurants for workers. Others wrote letters of comfort or just gave hugs. Some sent gifts of money and teddy bears for the children; others offered counseling. People found ways to serve according to their personalities, abilities, and resources.
A story in the Bible about Joseph tells how he used his skills to play an important role in helping people survive a 7-year famine (Gen. 41:53-54). In his case, he could prepare beforehand because he knew a difficult time was coming. After Joseph warned Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, that the lean years were coming, Pharaoh put him in charge of the 7-year preparation time. Joseph used wisdom and discernment from God to get his country ready (41:39). Then, when “the famine was over all the face of the earth, . . . Joseph opened all the storehouses” (v.56). He was even able to help his own family (45:16-18).
These stories show the heart of God for the world. He has prepared us and made us who we are that we might care for others in whatever way He leads us.
Lord, help me feel the hurt that others feel When life inflicts some bitter pain, And use me in some loving way to heal The wounds that may through life remain. —D. DeHaan
Compassion offers whatever is necessary to heal.
Although Joseph suffered many injustices, God ultimately used him to help others by empowering him to provide food for those who otherwise would have starved. This principle applies to the believer even today. God can help us persevere in our suffering so that we can help others who are in need in the future. In the New Testament, Paul tells us that we experience pain and God’s comfort in order to comfort others (2 Cor. 1:3-4).
Maurice Griffin was adopted when he was 32 years old. He had lived with Lisa and Charles Godbold 20 years earlier as a foster child. Although Maurice was now a man living on his own, adoption had been what the family and he had always longed for. Once they were reunited and the adoption was official, Maurice commented, “This is probably the happiest moment in my life. . . . I’m happy to be home.”
Those of us who have joined the family of God may refer to that time as the happiest moment in our lives. When we trust Christ for salvation, we become God’s children, and He becomes our heavenly Father. The Bible assures us, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26).
As God’s adopted children, we acquire spiritual siblings—our brothers and sisters in Christ—and we all share an eternal inheritance (Col. 1:12). In addition, Jesus’ Spirit indwells our hearts and enables us to pray using the name Abba, Father (Gal. 4:6)—like a child calling, “Daddy.”
To be a child of God is to experience the closeness and security of a Father who loves us, accepts us, and wants to know us. Our adoption into His family is a wonderful homecoming.
I once was an outcast stranger on earth, A sinner by choice, and an alien by birth; But I’ve been adopted, my name’s written down, An heir to the mansion, a robe, and a crown. —Buell
God’s arms are always open to welcome anyone home.
Paul’s use of the metaphor of adoption is significant. A child who is orphaned and abandoned is likely to die. But through adoption a child is accepted and made part of the family, with full status and rights. That child is given a new life. This is God’s action toward us. When God redeems us, He accepts us into His family as sons and daughters.
Where is Mary Poppins when you need her? I know this sounds as if I’m longing for the good old days when cheerfully unrealistic movies featured characters like this fictional nanny, but what I’m really longing for are people with a vision for the future that is realistically optimistic. I yearn for joyful, creative people who can show us the positive side of what we consider negative, who can remind us that “just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.”
David wrote a song that expressed a similar truth. In his words, “the judgments of the Lord” are “sweeter also than . . . honey” (Ps. 19:9-10). Seldom do we hear that truth is sweet. More often we hear that it is bitter or hard to swallow. But truth is so much more than medicine to treat what’s wrong. It’s the diet that will prevent disease. It’s not an inoculation or an injection. It’s a gourmet meal that should be presented as a culinary delight, enticing the hungry to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (34:8).
We sing “Jesus is the sweetest name I know,” but some of us present Him as if He’s gone sour. Pure truth, untainted by pride, is the sweetest, most refreshing taste of all to those who hunger for spiritual sustenance. And we have the privilege of serving it to a starving world.
Jesus is the sweetest name I know, And He’s just the same as His lovely name, And that’s the reason why I love Him so; Oh, Jesus is the sweetest name I know. —Long
The truth of the Lord endures forever. —Psalm 117:2
Psalm 19 is a song of David that celebrates how God has revealed Himself to us—first in His creation and then in the Scriptures. While the psalm does not tell us at what point in David’s life this song was written, many scholars have suggested that it was in some way a product of David’s years as a shepherd over his father’s flocks. Constantly exposed to the wonders of God’s creation, David would have found ample material to celebrate how the Creator reveals Himself in what He has made (vv.1-6).