Self Therapy of the Divine Kind
When Jesus heard [of John’s death], He departed from there by boat to a deserted place
by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from
the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and he
was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.
Go Deep: Karl Menninger, founder of the famed psychiatric clinic in Topeka, Kansas that bears his name, was once asked, “What would you do if you thought you were going crazy?” Without even having to think about it, he said, “I’d go out and find someone less fortunate to serve.”
There is just something so self-healing about serving somebody else—especially if they are worse off than you. When you are going through your own hardship, whatever that may be—sickness, loss, disappointment, depression—God’s therapy is to find those who cannot help themselves, somebody who cannot pay back your kindness, and minister God’s love to them.
Don’t get me wrong—I am not suggesting denial or avoidance as it relates to your own hurt. Not at all! But to love, serve, and bless the less fortunate is to initiate a spiritual law that we find in Acts 20:35, “And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Jesus said it another way in Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
In other words, when you are the conduit of God’s love and grace, and when heaven’s generosity is being poured through you to those in need, on the way through you, that same flood of love, grace and generosity will leave the Divine touch in your own life.
Jesus is practicing his own preaching here in Matthew 14. King Herod had just beheaded Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist. When Jesus heard the news, he was deeply affected with unbearable sorrow over the loss of a loved one. And he did what most of us would do: He got away from the crowd for some time alone to pour out his grief before God.
But Jesus didn’t stay there long. He didn’t make the retreat into isolation his permanent address; he didn’t accept the paralysis of grief; he didn’t allow loss to define him. Rather, as other people who were hurting for reasons different than his own found him, he allowed compassion to flow, and out of that, he began to minister to their needs.
Jesus was setting a pattern for us, don’t you think? Not to minimize the pain that we experience from loss, but to turn it into a productive force that initiates God’s healing therapy in our own lives as we become the conduit of Divine love and grace to hurting people.
Perhaps you are licking your wounds today from the loss of something dear and near to your heart—maybe even the death of a loved one. If that is the case, try doing what Jesus did. See the needs of other hurting people around you and love them.
You probably won’t feel like doing it, but do it anyway. It won’t take away your own pain, but it will unleash God’s healing therapy for you. And at the end of the day, you will find that your journey through grief will be a lot healthier and a whole lot more productive.
One More Thing… Sir Thomas Browne put it well: “By compassion we make others’ misery our own, and so, by relieving them, we relieve ourselves also.”