Hunt for Inner Healing
Always a busy guy, Carson hunted, fished, rode dirt bikes, and skateboarded. He loved everything outdoors. But he was in a motorcycle accident and became paralyzed from the chest down. Soon depression sank in, and he didn’t see much of a future. Then one day some of his buddies got him to go hunting again. For a time he forgot about his injury as he enjoyed the beauty around him. This experience brought him inner healing and inspired a new purpose for his life—to provide the same experience for others like him through a nonprofit organization, Hunt 2 Heal. He says his accident was “a blessing in disguise. . . . Now I’m able to give back, which I’ve always wanted to do. I’m happy.” He’s excited about providing a place for those with severe mobility disabilities and their caregivers to find healing.
The prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of One who would bring healing for brokenness (Isaiah 61). He would “bind up the brokenhearted” and “comfort all who mourn” (vv. 1–2). After Jesus read this Scripture in His hometown synagogue, He said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Jesus came to save us and make us whole.
Are you in need of inner healing? Turn to Jesus and He’ll give you “a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (v. 3).
The Challenge to Serve
Although just thirteen years old, DeAvion took up a challenge to serve others. He and his mom had heard a story about a man who called on kids to mow fifty lawns for free during their summer break. Their focus was to assist veterans, single moms, people with disabilities—or anyone who just needed help. The founder (who had mowed fifty lawns in fifty states) created the challenge to teach the importance of work ethic and giving back to the community. Despite the heat and other activities a teenager could pursue in the summer, DeAvion chose to serve others and completed the challenge.
The challenge to serve comes to believers in Jesus as well. The evening before He would die for all people, Jesus ate dinner with His friends (John 13:1–2). He was well aware of the suffering and death He would soon encounter, yet He got up from the meal, wrapped a towel around Himself, and began to wash His disciples’ feet (vv. 3–5). “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet,” He said (v. 14).
Jesus, the humble Servant and our example, cared for people: He healed the blind and sick, taught the good news of His kingdom, and gave His life for His friends. Because Christ loves you, ask Him who He wants you to serve this week.
Sue’s family was falling apart before her eyes. Her husband had suddenly left the home, and she and her children were confused and angry. She asked him to go for marriage counseling with her, but he wouldn’t because he claimed the problems were hers. Panic and hopelessness set in when she realized he might never come back. Would she be able to care for herself and her children alone?
Hagar, a servant of Abraham and Sarah, faced those thoughts as well. Impatient for God to give them a son as promised (Genesis 12, 15), Sarah gave Hagar to her husband to have a child by her. “So Hagar gave birth to . . . Ishmael” (Genesis 16:1–4, 15). However, when God fulfilled His promise and Sarah gave birth to Isaac, family tensions erupted such that Abraham sent Hagar away with their son Ishmael with just some water and food (Genesis 21:8–21). Can you imagine her desperation? Soon they ran out of provisions in the desert. Not knowing what to do and not wanting to see her son die, Hagar put Ishmael under a bush and walked a distance away. They both began to sob. But “God heard the boy crying” (v. 17). He heard their cries, provided for their needs, and was with them.
Times of desperation when we feel all alone cause us to cry out to God. What a comfort to know that during those moments and throughout our lives, God hears us, provides for us, and stays near to us.
We Are Strangers
Everything felt drastically different in their new country—new language, schools, customs, traffic, and weather. They wondered how they would ever adjust. People from a nearby church gathered around them to help them in their new life in a new land. Patti took the couple shopping at a local food market to show them what’s available and how to purchase items. As they wandered around the market, their eyes widened and they smiled broadly when they saw their favorite fruit from their homeland—pomegranates. They bought one for each of their children and even placed one in Patti’s hands in gratefulness. The small fruit and new friends brought big comfort in their strange, new land.
God, through Moses, gave a list of laws for His people, which included a command to treat foreigners among them “as your native-born” (Leviticus 19:34). “Love them as yourself,” God further commanded. Jesus called this the second greatest commandment after loving God (Matthew 22:39). For even God “watches over the foreigner” (Psalm 146:9).
Besides obeying God as we help new friends adapt to life in our country, we may be reminded that we too in a real sense are “strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13). And we’ll grow in our anticipation of the new heavenly land to come.
A young mom followed behind her daughter, who pedaled her tiny bike as fast as her little legs could go. But picking up more speed than she wanted, the little girl suddenly rolled off the bike and cried that her ankle hurt. Her mom quietly got down on her knees, bent down low, and kissed it to “make the pain go away.” And it worked! The little girl jumped up, climbed back on her bike, and pedaled on. Don’t you wish all our pains could go away that easily!
The apostle Paul experienced the comfort of God in his continual struggles yet kept going. He listed some of those trials in 2 Corinthians 11:23–29: floggings, beatings, stonings, sleep deprivation, hunger, care for all the churches. He learned intimately that God is “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,” as he first declared in chapter one, verse three. Another version translates those verses this way: “He is the Father who gives tender love” (
God’s loving ways of comforting us are many and varied. He may give us a Scripture verse that encourages us to continue on or a special note or phone call from a friend that touches our spirit. While the struggle may not go away, because God bends down low to help us, we can get up and pedal on.
Faith in Action
A tornado blew through a community on a June evening in 2021, destroying a family’s barn. It was a sad loss because the barn had been on the family property since the late 1800s. As John and Barb drove by on their way to church the next morning, they saw the damage and wondered how they might help. So they stopped and learned that the family needed assistance with cleanup. Turning their car around quickly, they headed back home to change clothes and returned to stay for the day to clean up the mess the violent winds had created. They put their faith into action as they served the family.
James said that “faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). He gives the example of Abraham, who in obedience followed God when he didn’t know where he was going (v. 23, see Genesis 12:1–4; 15:6). James also mentions Rahab, who showed her belief in the God of Israel when she hid the spies who came to check out the city of Jericho (2:25; see Joshua 2; 6:17).
“If someone claims to have faith but has no deeds,” it does them no good (James 2:26). “Faith is the root, good works are the fruits, and we must see to it that we have both” (Matthew Henry Commentary). God doesn’t need our good deeds, but our faith is proven by our actions.
Love and Lean on God
Zach was funny, smart, and well-liked. But he secretly struggled with depression. After he committed suicide at age fifteen, his mom, Lori, said of him, “It’s just hard to comprehend how someone that had so much going for him would come to that point. Someone like Zach . . . was not exempt from suicide.” There are moments in the quiet when Lori pours out her sorrow to God. She says that the deep sadness after suicide is “a whole different level of grief.” Yet she and her family have learned to lean on God and others for strength, and now they’re using their time to love others who are grappling with depression.
Lori’s motto has become “Love and lean.” This idea is also seen in the Old Testament story of Ruth. Naomi lost her husband and two sons—one who was married to Ruth (Ruth 1:3–5). Naomi grew bitter and depressed and urged Ruth to return to her mother’s family where she could be cared for. Ruth, though also grieving, “clung” to her mother-in-law and committed to staying with her and caring for her (vv. 14–17). They returned to Bethlehem, Naomi’s homeland, where Ruth would be a foreigner. But they had each other to love and lean on; and God provided for them (2:11–12).
During our times of grief, God’s love remains steady. We always have Him to lean on as we also lean on and love others in His strength.
Surviving and Thriving
The Croods, an animated caveman family, believe that “the only way to survive is if the pack [their small family] stays together.” They are afraid of the world and others, so when looking for a safe place to live they’re filled with fear after discovering a strange family already in the area they’ve chosen. But they soon learn to embrace the differences of their new neighbors, draw strength from them, and survive together. They find that they actually enjoy them and that they do need others to live life fully.
It can be risky to be in relationship—people can and do hurt us. Yet it’s for good reason God put His people together in a body, the church. In fellowship with others we grow to maturity (Ephesians 4:13). We learn to depend on Him to help us be “humble and gentle” and “patient” (v. 2). We help each other by building each other up “in love” (v. 16). When we gather together, we use our gifts and learn from others who use theirs, which in turn equips us in our walk with God and service for Him.
Look for your place among God’s people if you haven’t found it yet as He leads you. You’ll do more than survive; in shared love you’ll bring honor to God and grow to be more like Jesus. And may we all depend on Him as we walk through a growing relationship with Jesus and others.
Walking with Others
Billy, a loving and loyal dog, became an internet star in 2020. His owner, Russell, had broken his ankle and was using crutches to walk. Soon the dog also began to hobble when walking with his owner. Concerned, Russell took Billy to the vet, who said there was nothing wrong with him! He ran freely when he was by himself. It turned out that the dog faked a limp when he walked with his owner. That’s what you call trying to truly identify with someone’s pain!
Coming alongside others is forefront in the apostle Paul’s instructions to the church in Rome. He summed up the last five of the Ten Commandments in this way: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:9). We can see the importance of walking with others in verse 8 as well: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.”
Author Jenny Albers advises: “When someone is broken, don’t try to fix them. (You can’t.) When someone is hurting, don’t attempt to take away their pain. (You can’t.) Instead, love them by walking beside them in the hurt. (You can.) Because sometimes what people need is simply to know they aren’t alone.”
Because Jesus, our Savior, walks alongside us through all our hurt and pain, we know what it means to walk with others.