Meeting the Deepest Need
I know it is easy to look at someone who requires your help and to see only their felt need. You may feel as though the resources your friend needs are physical and that his demands on you are physical (energy, time, money, etc.). But while you are tending to another’s physical needs, you must remember to consider his unseen need. The importance of attending to this unseen need is more dire than any issue your friend is facing. 1 Fellow believers need their faith to be strengthened by grace, and our nonbelieving friends need to have that grace dawn on them for the first time.
Our physical abilities and resources are all different. What you might have to do in order to help your friend might be different from how I care for my children or serve my husband. Sometimes their neediness might be exacerbated by circumstances—a surgery, an anniversary, an accident. It is easier to focus on the physical needs in those desperate times, but by God’s grace you have to remember there are spiritual issues in the midst of all this.
Our deepest need is to be reconciled with God, and our only hope is Jesus and his cross.
A Spiritual Battleground
The world isn’t going to help you stay aware of these things. In fact, Satan’s goal is to distract you and keep you from recognizing your need for God. He is hell-bent against your taking the gospel to those hurting in your life. Friend, you may think you are only refilling medication, filling out paperwork, or writing a note of encouragement, but this is a spiritual war.
A hurting person’s deepest problem is the same as your deepest problem. We were all made for unbroken fellowship with God, but our sin separates us from him. Our deepest need is to be reconciled with God, and our only hope is Jesus and his cross. Holding the truth of the gospel in your mind, respond to God’s call on your life to serve others in word and in deed with the strength that God supplies so that Christ gets the glory.
How Do You Do It?
I wonder if people ever give you sad looks and say things like, “I can’t imagine. I couldn’t do what you do.” They’re right. But the reason they can’t do what you do is not because you have some kind of superhero powers of servanthood that they don’t have. The difference between your ministry and theirs is not an issue of competency.
The reason you can do what you do is because this is your stewardship of grace. God has set you apart according to his unsearchable wisdom. He is the one who gives you everything you need to do what he’s called and gifted you to do. When others around you say, “I couldn’t do what you do,” they are simply commenting on this fact: God has called and gifted you. And the correlating truth is that you couldn’t do what God has called and gifted others to do, either!
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Pet. 4:10–11)
The Strength God Provides
In college I took several “spiritual gifts inventories.” I answered the multiple choice questions trying to envision the best possible merger of the person I was and the person I wanted to be. No wonder I always liked the composite descriptions of the inventory results! While resources like these can be helpful, they’re not Jesus.
At no point in any self-discovery inventory, book, or class was I ever given the label as one with “the gift of service.” But Jesus didn’t care. When he called me to serve my disabled husband, he equipped me with whatever I needed to serve with the strength he supplied. And he was faithful to give me his varied grace again and again as we added four children to our family over time. Jesus is generous to give me everything I need to serve him in the good works he planned for me (Eph. 2:8–10).
The underlying question that observers are asking you is this: How does he do it? How does God call and equip you? How does his glory shine through your service? When you are asked the “how” question, whether or not the asker recognizes God as the source of your ministry, assure yourself with this truth: Since God called you to serve someone, he will give you everything you need so that he may be glorified through Jesus Christ. We serve with joy through the same means by which we were saved in the first place: by grace through faith. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. In all circumstances, in every dark valley, in every moment. No exceptions. Amen.
1. One can object by saying, “Wouldn’t a starving child’s greatest need be bread?” Of course, a person with true faith wouldn’t say to an emaciated person, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” yet leave them without what they need for their body (James 2:16).
This article is adapted from the afterword by Gloria Furman of Being There by Dave Furman.
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