What is Emotional Poverty?

The term “poverty” is most often associated with a lack of financial and material resources, and for good reason. When it comes to sustaining life, food and shelter are certainly the most essential needs. But survival is about more than having these basic needs met. Poverty can actually be experienced in a ways having nothing to do with a lack of money, food or shelter. Another type of poverty a person might experience is emotional poverty.

Emotional poverty is a deprivation of essential needs that are connected to emotional and mental health. Counseling professionals have identified several crucial needs for human beings. A few of these include:

  • the security of a stable home life
  • the giving and receiving of attention
  • a sense of control over one’s environment
  • a sense of belonging and connection with a wider community
  • meaning and purpose
  • a sense of achivement
  • a sense of emotional connection, friendship and intimacy with others

A lack of these emotional resources, interestingly, is not limited to any particular demographic or set of circumstances. It may be a result of the stigmatization of financial poverty. But it could result from a loss of a job or a tough home environment, strained relationships or undiagnosed or addressed mental health issues. So really, anyone can experience it.

And while emotional poverty is not a clinical disorder, it can lead to problematic responses such as anger, anxiety, isolation and a host of additional negative behaviors. This type of poverty often manifests itself through loneliness, mental challenges, relational issues or difficulty with life or coping skills.

A Biblical Understanding of Emotional Poverty

The Christian’s response to emotional poverty comes from the imperative given by Jesus himself: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” When we see others experiencing any kind of lack, it is our responsibility to respond. Jesus modeled this with unrelenting action-based compassion for others. His service was not limited to those who were poor. We often find him associating with people who are rejected, isolated, mentally unique or challenged, and grieving. He embraces them, does life alongside them, and commissions them for Kingdom Work.

How can we proactively meet emotional needs for our neighbors? Paul the Apostle gives a helpful model for as he ministers to his young protege Timothy:

Everybody needs to be loved.

Paul calls Timothy his beloved son (2 Timothy 1:2). He doesn’t just love him inwardly. He expresses it. People around us need to know we love them. We need to tell them they are precious.

Everybody needs someone to pray for them.

Paul prays for Timothy consistently (2 Timothy 1:3). Not only is prayer a powerful tool for accessing physical and spiritual resources, it also lets a person know they are regarded. It gives them dignity as they feel a sense of importance to others, and to God. Regular intercessory prayer offered to a person absolutely fills up a person’s emotional bank.

Everybody needs somebody to believe in them.

Paul reassures Timothy that he is capable of great things (2 Timothy 1:5). Like Paul, we must speak life into others. We must encourage potential and affirm in a way that builds up confidence and boldness.  People need a cheerleader when they are emotionally downcast. They need to know that someone sees them, and is proud of them.

Everybody needs somebody that will help them.

Finally, Paul challenges Timothy with advice to help him succeed (2 Timothy 1:6). As Christ- followers, we need to be assertive and available as a resource to others. We can provide biblical truth, wise counsel, accountability and support. As God’s ambassadors, we should give it freely. It is our highest duty to connect people to the ultimate resource—Jesus.

A Missional Solution for Relieving Emotional Poverty

At Feed the Need Missions, it is one of our missional objectives to relieve emotional poverty. Each week, in communities across Texas, Feed the Need Missions trailers roll up, and volunteers assemble to prepare and serve free hot meals for anyone in the community. While the meal does relieve hunger and meet practical, tangible needs, we often say this is just the tool that opens the door to providing emotional, social and spiritual filling that is also a desperate need.

The meals we serve and the consistency of our presence creates intimacy. We are actively working to build a sense of community and belonging, of acceptance. We are creating security, giving attention, and building relationships that allow us to minister to people in their emotional need. Our guests are also invited to serve alongside us, providing them an opportunity to feel a sense of achievement and purpose.

At Feed the Need Missions, we are about meeting people in every type of poverty. If you are lonely, isolated, or hurting, we invite you to come and let us serve you. If you are ready to step in to a mission field where you can practically meet the emotional needs of others as a Christ-follower, Feed the Need Missions has a place for you to serve and help. Everyone is welcome. You are welcome.

I love mother’s day, and here’s why –

For a long time, I didn’t know if I would ever have the privilege of being a mother. It was after a long, hard road that I stepped into it as a newly-licensed foster mama. I’ll never forget the late March evening my precious daughter was placed in my arms. I had waited so long and prayed so hard for her, I knew that moment I would never, ever, take it for granted. And I can honestly say, many years (and messy adventures) later, I am still so full of gratitude every single day for the precious gift that motherhood is in my life.

I remember as a new mom I stole away one morning to process this new season. I drove myself to the Starbucks just down the street from my house, asked God for wisdom, and dove in to the scriptures for what it means to be a mom, by God’s design. As Mother’s Day approaches, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a few things I learned with all of you out there. 


Prepare to Launch

A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
-Genesis 2:24
To my dismay in that moment, I discovered that parenthood is about preparing your children to leave you, so that they can be fruitful independently of you. This was hard for me to grapple with as a foster mom. The vulnerable position I was in felt heavy on my heart every day. I knew our time together, our forever, was not guaranteed. I could lose her. I was terrified of that. I didn’t know how long I would have her. I’m not unique in that, really – the truth is none of us ever do. But God’s Word reassured me. The fact is, one way or another, our kids will leave our care…
So for as long as God entrusts his precious children to us, that is our mission, our privilege. Prepare them for launch, for flight, for separation from us. And so that day, I began to look at parenthood God’s way. Even as a tiny little person, my goal each day was to pour in to her what she needed in order to strengthen her for whatever was going to come next.


“Mama”

The Hebrew words for mother and father are very fascinating. It probably isn’t surprising that Ab, father, is a picture of an ox (symbolic of leadership or strength) and a house. The father’s role is as the leader of the home.

But what about a mother’s role in parenting?

The word for Mother is pronounced “em.” Same beginning letter for leader or strength, but the second letter means water. Mother means “strong water” in picture form.

The implications for that are pretty amazing. Ancient Hebrews made glue by boiling animal skins in water. As the skin broke down, a sticky thick liquid formed at the surface of the water. This thick liquid was removed and used as a binding agent—and they called it “strong water.” So, linguistically, the Bible shows us that a mother holds it all together, and boy doesn’t that resonate?!

Another way to translate these word pictures is “headwaters.” Headwaters are a molding force, the source and head of the way elsewhere. This certainly speaks to the influence of the mother in guiding and shaping a young life, of her instruction and her example. A mother leads by modeling as she yields to the authority of the father in godly submission. Her force, like water, is gentle, and repetitive, powerful enough to carve pathways out of hardened mountains and stone.
Interestingly, there are so many properties and effects of water that are so crucial to life and health: it elevates mood, increases cognitive function, regulates, protects, removes waste, helps with nutrient absorption, fights illness, increases energy –

It’s gentle yet powerful, it is cleansing and healing, it sustains life. I would say that’s exactly what mamas do and are on the daily.


A Greater and More Perfect Love

You may be wondering, what does all this have to do with God?
A mother’s love – known for its special intuition, its fierce protectiveness, and refusal to give up on even the lost causes, is all just a mere reflection of a greater and more perfect love of Jesus Christ. Just look at how Colossians confirms that He is the bonding agent and the headwater for us:

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
Colossians 1:17-18
Here are three more of those maternal allusions, nestled in the psalms, that are used to describe Gods love for us: 

  • A Safe Place

God wants to shield us more desperately from our enemy than any mother in nature. And He gave His very body, His life to do so. The wings are the grace. And this undeserved, covenant favor preserves us just like those helpless, baby chicks. All we have to do is run to Him. 
Read: Psalm 17: 8-9 | Psalm 57:1 | Psalm 91: ALL

  • Sustainer

As I read this passage, there are three elements to what is described of the Lord. It starts with sustaining someone who falls. A physical misstep. Next it says He raises up those who are about down. An emotional pit. Finally it says He feeds them appropriately. A filling of food. When I read about all these things I see a common thread. And the thread is comfort and nurture, all met with appropriate filling. If there is a void or an emptiness, He can fill it.        
Read: Psalm 145:8-9, 14-16

  • Sacrifice

There really is not a better word to describe motherhood. From pregnancy to nursing and on, a mother must give of herself, nearly constantly, to her own exhaustion, depletion, to nurture and prepare another life. Often there is almost a complete surrender of identity – there is who you were before kids, and then there was you as a mother. It changes everything.
He will love us despite our undeservedness, because He sees the potential for life. As a mother protect her unborn child, so He will protect us, He will never let go of the promise of one day holding us in his arms. And He will pay any cost, even sacrifice His own life, for that to happen. We can trust in Him.
Read: Psalm 103:1-13

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Moms are definitely wonderful, and worthy of gratitude, and I sure am thankful there is a set aside time to be thought of. But I hope we all remember every day that as moms, we are entrusted with the privilege of reflecting the incomparable love of our God. So let’s not forget today, and every day, to give thanks and honor to the one from whom all these wonderful mothers with their wonderful qualities have come. He is our sealant, he is our source, he is our our safe place, our sustainer, our sacrifice. Thank you thank you God for showing us your love for us through mothers.

From all of us at Feed the Need Missions, we’d like to thank all you moms out there! You are appreciated and so loved!


About the Writer

Amanda joined our staff in September of 2020 as the Marketing Director. She is a pastor’s wife, Bible teacher and public speaker, and former church staffer. In her 10 years of adult ministry experience at one of the largest churches in the U.S., she fostered a passion and proficiency for church program development, discipleship and sharing the love of Christ.

If you are ready to maximize the ultimate measure of your life, you can rest assured that Feed the Need Missions is an avenue through which you can make a major impact on those in most need and also reflect the character and values of Dr King.

In case you hadn’t heard, the first seven days of January have officially been dubbed “New Year’s Resolution Week.” This week the entire internet has been inundated with “new year, new you” messaging, social media posts touting ‘words of the year,’ and other similar personal goal setting.

Taking time to reset and self evaluate truly are so important. Personal Bible reading plans and a restructuring of priorities are vital for growth. But if 2020 gave us anything, it was ample time to do this. Last year, as we learned to adapt to quarantined living in the wake of COVID-19, we became homeschool parents and remote office workers. We focused on family. We gardened. We crafted. We became digital media pros. What was sorely missed, in all this inwardly focused time, was a sense of community. 

A New Year Shift of Focus

In 2020, loneliness was off the charts. People felt disconnected, so much so that the CDC published resources, warnings and health ramifications associated with isolation. We missed our friends, and churches, and our coffee dates. We longed for unmasked smiles, unreserved hugs and high fives. Personal contact. Togetherness.

As we move in to a new year, consider trading the typical personal resolutions for a commitment to personal involvement in community revitalization. If ever there was a time, this is the year to shift our focus outward toward others. Should you need biblical support for this, you need look no further than this charge from the Apostle Paul:

 

Selfless and sacrificial service should be the daily norm for every Christian— but we don’t often incorporate it into our New Years goal setting. And it’s too bad, because it has some pretty incredible perks. In addition to the obvious spiritual priority the Bible gives it and the benefits for others, a service oriented lifestyle is proven to decrease depression, add skills to our personal tool belts, reduce stress and help us build new friendships. The ironic truth is we could achieve most of our personal goals more effectively by focusing less on self and more on others. Just food for thought.

A New Year Commitment to Community

So what does resolving to be others-centered in 2021 look like? Glad you asked! First, let’s talk about the need.

We know our communities have healing to do in the wake of 2020. But defining that more specifically helps us to articulate how we can be part of the solution. At Feed the Need Missions, we define the needs based on what we call the Four Levels of Poverty:

  • Physical poverty – This is the more obvious understanding of poverty, including a lack of tangible resources impacting food, clothing and shelter. This lack occurs for a myriad of reasons, but many individuals experienced heightened poverty in 2020 in the wake of job losses and furrows.
  • Emotional poverty – This type of poverty manifests itself through loneliness, mental challenges, relational issues or difficulty with life or coping skills. As mentioned above, there is a heavy sense of isolation and anxiety related to 2020.
  • Social Poverty – Often social deficits go hand in hand with physical poverty. Most often, social poverty is the desire to feel valued, to simply be seen, to be heard, and to have someone speak into their lives.
  • Spiritual Poverty – We believe the most dire need of all people, in the era of COVID or otherwise, is for the forgiveness and unconditional love of Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate solution, meeting every need associated with physical, emotional, social and spiritual poverty.

Feed the Need Missions is about meeting people in every one of these types of poverty. Our organizational mission is to feed people physically and spiritually. We do that through weekly pop up style dinner sites, where we distribute hot meals. As we address the physical need, we initiate personal interactions, offer prayers and proclaim the Gospel to anyone who is willing to listen.

A New Volunteer Service Opportunity

We do all this via an ever expanding army of volunteers. People looking for a way to make an impact. People just like you.

We often say, “the burger is just the tool.” We’ve found that, just as we see it play out in the Bible, physical needs being met opens the doors to fulfill every type of hunger. It gives us an opportunity to connect them to a Savior, Provider, Friend and Wonderful Counselor.

If restoring community in 2021 sounds like just the ticket for you, and you’re looking for a way to get started, we want to invite you to get involved in this vital mission as a volunteer, church partner, prayer warrior or donor. All you have to do is show up to one of our sites, and we’ll get you plugged in.

Ghandi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Are you ready to level up from Bible reading to Bible living? Are you ready to take Jesus outside the church walls? Then you are exactly who we’re looking to team up with in the new year.

Fellow believers, we’ve had our time to retreat and reflect. Now is a time for heroes to step up, ready to take action and be the healing hands of Jesus.

About the Writer

Amanda joined our staff in September of 2020 as the Marketing Director. She is a pastor’s wife, Bible teacher and public speaker, and former church staffer. In her 10 years of adult ministry experience at one of the largest churches in the U.S., she fostered a passion and proficiency for church program development, discipleship and sharing the love of Christ.

 

Church Volunteerism in the Age of COVID-19

Even in the best of times, churches have to work creatively and proactively to keep volunteerism up.

In fact, 50% of pastors feel like this is the biggest challenge they face. One unique advantage churches have over other nonprofit organizations is the ongoing sense of connection fostered by weekly face-to-face interaction in classes, events, worship and other activities.
In 2020, however, that advantage has dwindled. 
Unprecedented closures due to COVID-19, decreased programming and staff, and long-term social distancing plans have made it difficult to maintain that sense of connection. Nearly half of worshippers are now attending an online churchservice. With the decreased accountability and visibility come the temptations to disengage, to shop around, and to become spectators rather than participants.
Wouldn’t it be nice, in times like these, if someone outside your organization could step in and help? 
That’s exactly what Feed the Need Missions loves to do – empower and activate the Church to meet physical and spiritual needs. As a faith-based nonprofit organization, we have been partnering with local churches and harnessing the power of volunteers for a decade. Despite the COVID outbreak, we have seen nearly 200 volunteers show up each week to serve rural communities across Texas. 
Our President, Jonah Beyer, often consults with pastors looking to grow a passion for service among congregants. The following are a few suggestions – and some practical solutions – from our family of faith to yours. 


Volunteer Opportunities Are Vital For Church Growth

If you haven’t embraced volunteerism as a huge opportunity for church growth, this is step one. The impacts begin with the individual and blossom outward to affect the temperature of the entire church body. The process begins as active volunteers begin to experience personal benefits: 
  • They feel purpose and belonging
  • They cultivate new friendships
  • They discover gifts and passions
  • They experience the satisfaction that comes with helping and influencing others
From this experience springs loyalty to the church and personal ownership over its success. These individuals are no longer just spectators. They show up faithfully each week, ready to invest in the overall vision. 
This translates into great things for the church as a whole. Staff members experience less burnout as they give away ministry. And as members attend services regularly, they mature spiritually. Part of this maturity includes members replicating themselves and giving away ministry to others. 
Ultimately, then, enabling volunteerism promotes overall church growth.

Practical Ways to Cultivate the Volunteer Spirit

Once you understand why building up volunteers is important, you can get to work making it happen. Below are three postures and practices we suggest for building a successful volunteer base. 


 1. Make It Personal

If you want to grow volunteerism, here is a rule of thumb: people over projects. “People are one of our greatest assets,” Jonah shares. “But when the task becomes more important than the person, you lose your ability to lead.” In short, make sure that the leader at the helm is someone who is personable. Don’t delegate and disappear. Check in with people. Get to know them. Listen to their stories, experiences, and suggestions. Celebrate them. Thank them. Investing in volunteers, rather than just using people up as a resource, will build excitement and loyalty into your team. 


 2. Make It Meaningful

People don’t want to do busy work. They don’t get excited about doing “anyone can handle this” jobs. Trying to make it sound innocuous may be tempting, but it will not incite interest and passion – or attract the right people. What will, however, is an understanding of the overall vision and the impact it will have. Help volunteers see that, big or small, visible or behind the scenes, their offering is changing lives for Jesus Christ. In our annual Gobble Kits effort, for example, volunteers aren’t just handing out food or collecting canned goods. They are providing hope by donating Thanksgiving meals to families who are in desperate need in their own communities. They are the hands and feet of Jesus. The way we frame things makes all the difference in the attitudes of the people we lead. 


3. Build a Partnership 

With many churches still planning programming conservatively these days, your staff may simply not have the bandwidth to organize a project or mission right now. If this is the case, find a local mission you love and build a partnership. This way, the facility, details and supplies are handled by a third party; you can simply show up, serve and grow together. Feed the Need Missions would love to help you begin the process of engaging and developing a volunteer spirit in your church. 
Feed the Need Missions Church partnerships take many forms:

  • Home groups or classes choose a night to serve dinner at one of our weekly sites 
  • Mini-local mission trips take place for ministry areas to practice testimony sharing, Gospel sharing, and intercessory prayer
  • Members with administrative skill serve as site coordinators and church ambassadors
  • Church facilities are opened as a donation supply pick-up centers for seasonal missions


Partner with Feed the Need Missions

If you are interested in how a partnership with Feed the Need Missions might benefit your church, we’d love to connect. Let us host a Church and Burgers informational event at your location. Here, we share our vision and cook a delicious, free meal for your congregation. You can also schedule a strategy session with our president, Jonah Beyer or visit our website

Extreme heat is a period of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees for at least two to three days. In extreme heat your body works extra hard to maintain a normal temperature, which can lead to death. In fact, extreme heat is responsible for the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards.

Remember:

– Extreme heat can occur quickly and without warning.
– Older adults, children and sick or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat.
– Humidity increases the feeling of heat as measured by a heat index.

Check out the link for helpful information on Beating the Heat this summer. https://www.ready.gov/heat

Feed the Need Missions will continue serving water during the summer to our guests and volunteers. Stop by our sites for a cold refreshment and splash yourself at our hand washing station to cool down.

“Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

Feed the Need Missions has always strived to love unconditionally. Our ministry was started to serve ALL who come, no matter what. Our hearts want to echo 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.” In fact, this is not just a calling to us as a ministry, it is a calling to all Christians.

It is clear that evil is present. We can see it in the form of racial oppression, political divides, and using patriotism and religion as license to take action out of anger or personal gain. This is the chaos that Satan creates, thrives in, and conquers all who allow it to enter. This is not the time for the Church to be silent. This is the time to show the love of Jesus, not the judgement of men, to all people.

Do not confuse Black Lives Matter with putting one race over another. This isn’t the point. The point is that Black Americans are hurting and need support right now. If you have multiple children and one of them tells you “I love you,” you don’t respond with “well I love all my children, not just you!” Even though this is true, this is not what our brothers and sisters need to hear in this moment. They need to hear that we love them, and that we’re here to stand in the gap for them and be the voice that needs to be heard in solidarity alongside of them.

What can I do? This is often the first question we ask. Many times we don’t get the answer we want or it is too hard to find out, it’s easier to try to ignore it and sit idle and return to things that feel comfortable.

But when you are comfortable there is no progress, there is no fight, there is no battle. The only thing defeated in comfort is the spirit of love that lives inside you. It’s time for that spirit to stay alive. Not just for a short time, but until Jesus comes back.

Start getting uncomfortable. Here are two things you can begin to do today.

    1. PRAY. Time and time again, Jesus shows up when we ask. Pray for our Black friends and neighbors. Pray our eyes would be open to the injustices happening, big and small. Pray that your heart would be empathetic and broken for the pain that people have experienced. Pray for direction in what steps you can take to make a difference.
    2. LEARN. There are so many great resources out there – books, voices, etc. Here is a great place to start. Listen to your Black friends. Talk with others about what you are learning. Have uncomfortable conversations. Read books that make you rethink about what you were taught about race. Try to truly understand what the changes and policies people are fighting for, not just what you hear from sensational news headlines. And approach all of this with a humble heart. It is okay if you were wrong, and it is okay to change.

When you start diving in and really focus on these two things, the actions you need to take will come to light. Don’t be idle, this is important.

In this time of racial injustice, we need to let God’s love show through and guide all of us to unity. The worst thing that can happen is that when the uproar has quieted, we go right back into the comfortable lives we were living before. Don’t let that happen, love is difficult, love is often awkward, love is uncomfortable. Do the hard thing. Love.

To our Black brothers and sisters, we love you and we want to support you. We want to learn and listen. We ask for your forgiveness in places we have failed, and we are willing to do the work to make things better.

There is nothing special about Feed the Need Missions. We just try to instill doing small things well again and again. God doesn’t need superstars, he needs ordinary people that He can do extraordinary acts through.

We hope you join us in praying and learning. We can’t wait to see where God leads us to love others.

This is an uncertain time for all of us. Feed the Need Missions is doing our part to help ensure the health, safety, and food security of all of our sites and communities. We’re focused on the needs of the people we serve. We’re incredibly thankful and blessed for the outreach from our community wanting to support these efforts!

Feed the Need Missions is continuing to work with partners across our service areas to find innovative ways to serve our friends and neighbors. We currently changed our focus to provide a safe “to-go” serving style. As guests arrive in their car, or on foot, they are handed a meal to take home. Janice said, “I am thankful you guys are still doing this. With hours cut back at work this is going to help us get through. You guys have been a blessing to Stanley and me for a long time. Right now, we are in desperate need of prayer and food. We were worried you weren’t going to be able to do this.”

We understand that during this time our communities need to be served physically and spiritually more than ever before. Current volunteer sessions are being kept much smaller than traditional volunteer groups. This is to best accommodate the social distancing guidelines, while still serving our community safely. We will continue serving in this time of need and are so grateful for the support we’ve received in doing so. If you would like to serve with us during this time, please contact Jason Bray for important information on ways you can be involved.

Everyone’s affected by what’s happening right now with COVID-19. What we also know is that the needs will be continually changing throughout this pandemic. Right now, the efforts of Feed the Need Missions are for those that are hungry and needing spiritual filling. We serve many families at our sites with a hot meal, a listening ear, the love of Jesus, and will continue to do so.

Site Coordinator Jack Gilmore mentioned, “All but four cars asked for prayer. People are hurting and confused by what’s happening. We needed to be there to comfort them,” he said. “We had a guy who pulled up and handed me money, he didn’t want food. He just wanted to thank my team for being out there and encouraged us to keep going.”

Since the pandemic started, our organization has mobilized volunteers to serve to-go bags to those who come to a site. Local restaurants are partnering with us to help feed people in need for the interim because of food shortage in our feeding areas. We appreciate those who have come alongside of us, to continue to serve those in need.

Feed the Need Missions is not only complying with CDC guidelines and local government requirements, we have also been encouraged by the local officials to continue serving in our communities.

by Michael Warden, Board Member

Anytime we are faced with widespread suffering, the first question that always comes up is “Where is God in all of this?” The good news is that the answer remains that God is where He always has been, on His throne, and in complete control.

At first, this can seem disheartening. If bad stuff can happen, even when God is in control, why should I trust God? But consider the reverse. If God were incapable of stopping bad things from happening, would that make you feel better or worse about the situation?

The reality is that we as believers can feel confident through hard times precisely because we know that our God will use this situation for our good and His glory.

Disease and Death Enter the World

Let’s back up. Scientists believe Coronavirus first infected humans in a market in Wuhan, China, but where did this virus come from, spiritually speaking?

God did not create the world for death and suffering. After God had finished making Eve so that Adam would not be lonely, Genesis 1:31 says:

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (ESV)

But Adam and Eve sinned in Genesis 3, and through that sin, we see that death and suffering enter the world. We were not made to separated from the ones we love, or to suffer through painful disease, and so the emotional and spiritual tolls are often as great as the physical ones.

God Uses Suffering for Our Good and His Glory

But God, being all-powerful and all-knowing, did not just leave His children to suffer in vain. The pattern in scripture is clear. He is Lord, even in our sufferings. We can see the promise made in Romans 8:28, among other places.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (ESV)- Romans 8:28

But this promise is not idle. Repeatedly throughout scripture, God fulfills His purposes for the good of His people through trying times. In Genesis, Joseph is sold into slavery, sent to Egypt, only to redeem His people by leading Egypt through a tremendous famine. In the end, Joseph declares:

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (ESV) – Genesis 50:20

In Job, God allows Satan to take everything away from Job but his life. His possession and his children are destroyed. In the end, Job confesses:

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (ESV)- Job 42:2–6

In this case, God restores Job’s family and possessions to him, and, in fact, doubles them, but more importantly, Job trusts God through all of His suffering, and through that trust, it is counted righteousness to Him through Jesus Christ.

We could take nearly endless other examples of suffering from the Bible to make similar points, from Jonah, to Paul, but the most obvious example is Jesus Himself. Through Jesus’ suffering, God reconciled the world to Himself. Jesus’ death on the cross was not Satan’s defeat of God, as the men on the road Emmaus wondered (Luke 24:13-17), but God’s defeat of Satan once and for all (John 19:30- “It is finished.”).

For the Unbeliever

The reality is that the world is like this, full of disease, suffering, and death, whether you believe there is a merciful God on the throne or whether you believe that this is also just random chance. The difference between the two outlooks is whether the reality of the current world will produce hope or dismay.

For the unbeliever, suffering and loss in the only time you believe you have could easily lead to dismay. This world, you believe, is as good as anything ever gets. If it’s not so good to you, what hope might you have for something better?

For the believer, however, we are included in the promise of Romans 8:28. All things work together for our good, whether in this life or eternity, and this world is the worst we must endure. All things will be made new.

If you have not yet put your faith in Christ, this is an opportunity to enter into His promises. Ask us how.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (ESV)- Revelation 21:3–5

How are we as Christians called to respond?

As believers, because we can be confident in the promises of God even in the midst of suffering, we do not have to respond from a place of fear. We are free to demonstrate God’s love for us, by loving others. Ministering to people’s physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs continues to be our response.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (ESV)- Romans 12:15

 

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. (ESV) – John 21:15–17

 

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (ESV)- James 1:12