Physical NeedsOne way you can help people in trouble is to meet their physical needs. We can do this by providing tangible help. "Tangible" means things you can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. These are things like food, water, blankets, medical help, temporary places to stay, rebuilding homes or buildings, and replacing toys. Several organizations are very good at this. They are usually called "relief" organizations because they provide things that help "relieve" the physical hurts and needs of people. Here are a few you might know:
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- The American Red Cross
- Children's Disaster Services
- National Emergency Response Team (NERT)
- The Salvation Army
- Denominational emergency response or relief groups and teams
- World Vision
- Samaritan's Purse
"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers
, you did it to me.’" Matthew 25:34-40 (ESV)
Emotional NeedsPeople who have been trough a tragedy or a very hard situation have emotional needs too. They may be hurt, upset, angry, confused, sad, feel guilty, or experience any number of other emotions. Some of the organizations above provide counseling in addition to meeting people's physical needs. You can help meet people's emotional needs even if you are not a counselor. Some people just need someone to care. The video clip below is from the movie "Soul Surfer." It shows Bethany Hamilton in Thailand after a big storm destroyed the town. The kids, teenagers, and adults were scared of the water. How did Bethany Hamilton help them feel better and give them hope?
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (ESV)What is one way you could make people feel better and help them know that somebody still cares?
Spiritual NeedsAll people need something to hold on to, a reason to keep going when things get hard. One of the first things Jesus did when He started His ministry, healing people and telling them about God, was to read part Isaiah 61 in His hometown temple (church). When He finished, Jesus told everyone there that these verses talk about Him, Jesus Christ.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me. He has anointed me to announce the good news to poor people. He has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners. He has sent me so that the blind will see again. He wants me to set free those who are treated badly. And he has sent me to announce the year when he will set his people free.” (Isaiah 61:1,2)
Luke 4:1-2 (NIRV)
Jesus is the Good News. He died on the cross to take our punishment for sin (the wrong choices we make). After three days, He came to life again! All those who turn away from their sins, believe in Jesus, trust and follow Him will be saved from taking their own punishment for sin (being separated from God forever). God then lives with us and teaches us through His Word. He leads us, helps us, gives us strength, and helps us do the things God made to do. (See this video for more information.)
"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"
John 14:6 (NIRV)
The people in your house, down your street, in your town or city, all over your country, and around the world need to hear this Good News. Don't forget to tell people about the best news ever (about Jesus) even as you meet their physical and emotional needs.
"So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (NIRV)
The Power of PrayerPrayer should be the first thing on our list, but sometimes it is the last thing we think to do. Don't underestimate the power of prayer. "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit." James 5:13-18 (ESV) Look back at those verses for a minute.
- What did it say about Elijah? Was he something special? Why or why not?
- Whose prayers does God answer?
- Romans 8:10 (NIRV) says, "If Christ lives in you, you will live. Though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life. The Spirit does this because you have been made right with God." According to this verse, who is a righteous person, a person who has been made right with God?
- Based on your answers to these questions, will God answer your prayer? Why or why not?
A Balancing ActAll people have physical needs, emotional needs, and spiritual needs. Christians, Christ-followers, are supposed to meet all three. This is not easy. Some people, churches, and groups are very good at meeting physical and/or emotional needs, but they forget or don't do much for the spiritual needs. Other people, churches, and groups are very good at meeting spiritual needs, but they forget or don't do much for the physical and/or emotional needs. God wants us to do both. As you meet people's needs, pray and ask God to work through you. Ask Him to help you keep things in balance, not forgetting an important part of people's needs.
"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8 (ESV)
About FearIt is normal to have some fear when something new happens or something bad happens. Don't forget that you are not alone. Don't forget that nothing is a surprise to God. It may not be what He wanted. It may make Him sad or make Him hurt for the people involved, but nothing is a surprise to God. We do not need to be afraid because God, our all-powerful, all-mighty God, is with us.
"So do not be afraid. I am with you. Do not be terrified. I am your God. I will make you strong and help you. I will hold you safe in my hands. I always do what is right." Isaiah 41:10 (NIRV)
Closing PrayerI'd like to close with a prayer from the book Pray for Our Nation by Keith and Megan Provance (p. 35-36). It is not a magic prayer or the "right words to say." It is simply a suggestion of things to think about as you pray your own words. This prayer is based on Matthew 25:35-36; Isaiah 61:1-4; and Mark 8:35. "I pray for the comfort, peace, and encouragement of all people whose lives have been affected by this tragedy. I pray for healing and help for those who have suffered hurt, sickness, or pain. I pray for any family that has suffered the loss of a loved one. Encourage them and comfort them in their distress. "Help rescue and relief workers respond quickly and effectively in order to resolve and stabilize the situation. I pray that aid and support arrives from many sources. Speak to the hearts of people to offer their help and services to agencies who respond to this disaster. "Help churches and pastors minister to the spiritual needs of everyone that has been affected by this event. May those who are suffering look to You and Your Word for strength and comfort. "Give wisdom to local, state, and national leaders who are responsible for decisions in how to respond to the need for help. Help all agencies, churches, and response groups work in harmony and a cooperative spirit so that their efforts might be more effective. "I pray You give wisdom and discernment to those in authority to help us better prepare for or completely avoid this type of crisis in the future, in the mighty name of Jesus." Amen.
Do you wonder in hard times "Where Was God?" Ask a parent or the adult who takes care of you, then click here to listen to a pastor answer this question from the Bible. This post is part of the Titus 2 Tuesday Linkup Party.