I remember years ago sitting outside of a burger place and enjoying the sunset with my husband. Moments later, the wind carried over the conversation of two young women sitting a few feet away. With heavy sighs, they described their friend who was battling depression. Unfortunately, I could sense their annoyance as they recounted his unquestionable cries for help. I immediately felt nervous thinking of how I could interject myself into their back-and-forth. At the time, I was working with an organization that hosted events as well as an online community for those who were dealing with spiritual oppression and suicidal thoughts.
“That’s why I’m here!” I thought to myself. I happened to have the organization’s business card with me, so when the young women got up to leave I told them how I overheard them saying their friend was dealing with depression. With the business card extended their way, I added that there was a site he could go to for help. They quickly declined my offer because “No thank you. We don’t live out here.” I reminded them that it was an online community and they responded “That’s okay. We already have a church.” It was as if they couldn’t hear the words coming out of my mouth, and I was stunned that my efforts to help their friend had fallen on deaf ears. As they walked away, I felt angry and offended. I muttered under my breath “Wow, I’m glad I’m not your friend. Too bad for him.”
It’s easy to become frustrated and defeated when you feel the Lord has given you a solution to someone else’s burden. We’re not called to live a life of isolation, and it’s a privilege to be used by God in any way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always sink in to the person receiving His message. “That’s the last time I ever try to help anybody” will quickly invade your thoughts when you take this personal, well at least for me it did. We have to remember that when God is at work, He uses you to plant seeds, but you alone do not possess the power to change anyone’s thoughts or perception of their situation.
“Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” (Mark 4:9)
Understanding doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Actually, listening doesn’t come naturally to some. We’re responsible for sharing God’s heart, but whatever people want to do with it is up to them. That is especially true in this day and age when right and wrong are consistently being given a new meaning and the opposition to our faith is sometimes overwhelming. I’m sure you can think of a time where a similar situation has come up in your life, and believe me it won’t be the last time that happens.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Never lose heart in doing what is right. For every person who chooses to walk their own way despite your help, there will be dozens of others who thank God for your obedience. Instead of becoming angry at someone for not heeding advice you believe was Spirit-led, keep them covered in prayer. Continue your commitment to sharing God’s love in every situation you encounter, and walk away knowing that you did your best. After all, the only living account you are truly responsible for is your own.
“For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.” (Romans 14:11-13)