As 2020 drags on, there are more and more reasons why people are hurting. I could list some of those reasons, but why rehash things that might depress both of us?
Instead, let’s think about helping others. Doesn’t it feel good when you can make a difference in someone else’s life? Although it’s nice when someone does something to help us, it feels even better when we can help someone who needs it.
This is especially true for followers of Jesus Christ. He has done so much for us! Those of us who really know Him want to spread the light of His good news to every corner of this dark world. The Apostle Paul said, “In everything, I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).
All of us are aware that we have weaknesses, though. Sometimes we look at our problems, the areas where we are lacking, and we feel too flawed. We feel we just aren’t good enough to help others. All the things we can’t do, the talents we don’t have, just seem overwhelming.
I share those feelings when I look at myself. I’ve found, though, that when I look to God and His Word, instead of looking at myself, I see something wonderful.
I’ve been reading through the Old Testament book of Judges and noticing the kind of people God used to help His people Israel. God’s chosen people–the Jews–were in a constant, downward spiral. They would turn their backs on God. Because He loved them, God would allow difficult circumstances to make their lives miserable without Him. The people would cry out to God for help, and then He would raise a leader to deliver them. After their freedom was restored, though, His people would soon forget God. Then the cycle would start all over again. How depressing! They needed leaders that would really help them.
As I studied the different men that God used to deliver the Jews, I noticed one unmistakable fact. Almost every leader was deeply flawed. Barak was so scared that he refused to go to battle without a woman’s help (see Judges, Chapter 4). Gideon was so full of fear that God had to reassure him over and over again before he was willing to fight the enemy (see Judges, Chapters 6-7). Jephthah was the son of a harlot (see Judges, Chapters 11-12). Sampson had a weakness for women, which included great moral failures (see Judges, Chapters 14-16). What an unlikely group of leaders God chose to use to deliver His people!
The men and women that God chose to use to deliver the Jews should be an encouragement to all of us. Despite their flaws, despite their failures, God used each of those leaders in many powerful ways. That means despite our weaknesses or the problems in our own backgrounds, He can even use us. The book of Judges proves that God can use anybody.
We cannot forget the one positive trait, though, that every leader in the book of Judges had. All of those men and women were surrendered to God and His will. Every single one was willing to follow God’s leading. That teaches us that the only requirement to be useful to God is to be surrendered to Him. This is why Jesus told His disciples “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). If we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, He will change us into people who will be able to help those around us.
Don’t forget that the first step in surrendering our lives to God is to become a real Christian, not just a person who has been brought up in a Christian community and gives lip-service to Christian ideas. We follow Christ because He gave His life to pay for our sins. “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Christians have new reasons and new resources to help those around them. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are talented, well-educated, or wealthy. God can and will use your life in service to Him if you follow Him. “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
With Jesus Christ in our hearts, we can make a wonderful difference in the lives of those around us. 2020 has been rough, but we can still be a help to those around us as we learn to seek the Lord for the strength we need. As Paul said, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).