Read: Matthew 14
“As soon as Jesus heard the news [of John’s death], he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:13-14)
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 therapeutic 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, who cannot pay back your kindness, and minister God’s love to them.
That is not to deny or avoid your own hurt. Not at all! To love, serve, and bless the less fortunate is to activate 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 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. His cousin, John the Baptist, had just been beheaded by Herod. When Jesus heard the news, he was deeply affected, as any human being would be. He felt tremendous sorrow and grief over the loss of a loved one. And he did what most of us would do: He got away from the crowd to spend some time alone and pour out his grief.
But Jesus didn’t stay there long. He didn’t succumb to self-pity; he didn’t retreat into isolation; he didn’t get paralyzed by grief. He found other people who were hurting for different reasons than his own, and out of compassion for them, he began to minister to their needs.
Jesus was setting a pattern for us, don’t you think? Not to minimize the hurt and grief that we experience from loss, discouragement and disappointment, but to turn it into a productive force that initiates God’s healing therapy in our own lives by becoming 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.
“By compassion we make others’ misery our own, and so, by relieving them, we relieve ourselves also.” ~Sir Thomas Browne
What If God Took Over?
Your assignment today is to do exactly what Karl Menninger suggested: Find someone who is hurting and serve that one in God’s love. In so doing, you will be surrendering even more territory of your life to God’s control.