Do you suffer from “PHL”, i.e. “post-holiday letdown?” After the excitement and busy-ness of the holiday season, do you sink into a mood of apathetic listlessness? After months of being focused on planning—meals, family get-togethers, office parties, children’s holiday activities, etc.—you focus now on just getting up and making it through the day. You are forced back into the mundane schedule you followed before Thanksgiving. Same old, same old.
I shared with you a few weeks ago, that I struggle with the month of January and the letdown after the excitement of the holidays. I struggle to get excited and interested in anything. This year when I found myself going into the second week of January with these negative feelings, I decided to look around and see where I could see God working and what He was doing. You know what I found out? God was busy! My interest once again picked up and I found myself wanting to get busy again.
I found out that God was alive and well and working diligently within our own church family. Although we are small at approximately 150 members, we have many members struggling with troublesome issues—some have been shared, some are deeply hidden in hurting hearts. Troubles range from loss of loved ones, members with serious medical problems, unsaved family members, financial troubles, and the usual conflicts found among family members (bickering over worship style, music, church ministries, etc.) and the list goes on. I would imagine that this sounds like any other church—at least those churches that are alive and seeking to serve God’s kingdom.
I would like to share with you how we have seen God working behind the scenes in a few of these struggles.
We recently lost a member of our church family to brain cancer after months of struggling through chemo treatments, radiation, experimental surgeries, and seizures. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters, one in college and one in high school. We saw God working in this situation in the following ways:
- He brought them to our church. His wife worked with a church member who invited them to our church and they continued to attend.
- After the husband was diagnosed with brain cancer, and as our church began to minister to the family through this crisis, the husband accepted Christ as His Savior and Lord and we were witness to an emotional baptismal service.
- Our church family ministered to this family through many emotional setbacks in both tangible and intangible ways: spiritual support through prayer, Bible study and Christian fellowship, emotional support as we supported and encouraged them through the hospital stays, treatments and homebound restrictions, and physical support by helping with tasks around the house, providing meals, and caregiving backup.
- The family, in turn, ministered to us by letting us walk with them through this challenging time.
In another instance, an out-of-town motorcyclist was badly injured in an accident. He had no family locally and the doctors were doubtful of his recovery. How did God work in this instance?
- Our church’s small motorcycle ministry (Messenger of the Cross) heard about the need and responded by going to the hospital and surrounding this patient with care, compassion and concern.
- This patient recovered enough to leave the hospital for rehab. He still faces an uphill battle both health-wise and legally, but he has come a long way from where he started.
- Once again, our group was allowed the privilege of ministering to this man and see how God chose to work in his life.
Another recent tragic event involved a small family that left our church over misunderstandings and wounded feelings. The daughter in this family was recently injured in a terrible auto accident and is currently in ICU at a local hospital. God has opened the doors for many opportunities to serve the family in these circumstances.
- Many of the first people to arrive at the hospital and offer encouragement and emotional support were members from our church family. These were still members of our family and they were hurting so we intended to be there for them. The mom was extremely grateful for the support and encouragement we offered and began to feel a part of our church family once again!
- Since the daughter is still unresponsive and she was the only person involved in the accident, the mother was extremely concerned over how long her daughter lay unattended after accident (there was a two-hour window of time they were not sure about.) As God would have it, a young man was going hunting and came upon the accident immediately after it happened. It was so soon after it happened that the dust was still in the air, wheels were still spinning, and although dark (it was 4:15 a.m.) God placed her directly in his path to find her. He called 911 and emergency personnel were on the scene quickly.
- As if this wasn’t enough, God chose the son of one of our church members as the hunter who found her! Several days after the accident, the young man and his mother met with the patient’s mother and put this concern to rest.
- The son of our church member was relieved to find out who the patient was and how she was doing, in addition to meeting her family. He has now seen firsthand how God worked in this family’s life and how God used him to get help for the patient and put some of the family’s concerns to rest.
- We now can show an example of Christ’s love to this family during the lengthy recovery process by ministering with visits, meals, etc.
- We will also get to watch and see how God heals this patient and family during this crisis and how he changes the life of the young man who found her (hopefully bringing him to full knowledge of who his Savior is.) We have seen two families greatly impacted with this event.
There have been several other happenings showing us how God is working around us:
- A hospitalized church member had a nurse whose mother also attended our church. The nurse had not attended in a while due to a tragic event in her life that left her angry, hurt and bitter. After talking with her patient, she attended worship service the next Sunday. The patient not only ended up on the road to recovery, the nurse may now be on the road to spiritual healing as well.
- A young married couple from our church family were told they would never have children. They began the adoption process with our prayers and support and before they were approved for the adoption, they found out they were expecting their own child. They now have a beautiful, healthy son as a testament to God still doing miracles.
- As I mentioned, several of our members are facing trials: financial woes, family and marital issues, health concerns, etc. It is thrilling to see how individuals and groups within our church are stepping up to take care of many of these needs, offering physical, emotional and spiritual support wherever it is needed.
As you can see, once I started looking around, I saw that God was indeed still busy and working and the only reason I wasn’t involved was due to my own self-centeredness. I was focused within, when I should have been focused outward. My apathetic listlessness has now become a focused mission—to find out where God intends for me to work and get to it!
How about you? Do you wonder if God is at work and what He is doing? Look around and I’m sure you will find similar situations where God is working. Look at what is happening to at your church, at your workplace, or even in your home. If you are having trouble, try the following ideas to help you focus:
- Stop – Whatever you are doing, stop, and be still so you can come before God without distraction.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act. Psalm 37:7a (NLT)
- Seek – Ask God to make you aware of what He is doing, where He is working, and how you might serve.
7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 (NLT)
- Serve – Once you’ve spent time in prayer and see where the opportunities are to serve, follow God’s leading on what you should do. Visit with people. Encourage them. Love them. Listen to them. Find out what they need and figure out how to meet that need. It may be physical needs to be met such as providing meals, transportation, home repair or clean-up, etc. Or it may be emotional support that is needed through prayer, visitation, and spiritual support. The opportunities will be there; take advantage of them.
14 Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive. Titus 3:14 (NLT)
10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10 (NLT)
God is not trying to hide what He’s doing! Look for the unique, different, and unexpected ways He is working. Then, get to work and help Him!