What fears do you face when serving the poor?
I am reminded of the story of David and Goliath. The biblical text says that Goliath was a “champion” (presumably of warfare) and described him as being “over nine feet tall” (1 Sam. 17:4) He carried a spear that had a shaft like a weaver’s rod (possibly 10 feet long and over 15 pounds in weight) that included an iron point that weighed another 15 pounds! The warrior David faced in the Valley of Elah was a behemoth of a man! He was something to be “feared. ” And yet David “ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.” (1 Sam. 17:48)
I don’t know if there was a sliver of apprehension in David that day (there certainly was in his fellow soldiers) but I find it hard to imagine that David, being human like the rest of us, didn’t wrestle with at least a little fear when approaching the giant. However we see that David trusted in God. He knew that the battle was the Lord’s (1 Sam. 17:47) and did not allow any fear he may have had to stop what he knew God was calling him to do.
What fears do you have when preparing to reach out and love your neighbor?
Here are some of my questions, fears and anxieties, maybe you can relate. How in the world can I help this person whose life is totally unraveling and whose challenges are way bigger than I can deal with? What can I possibly do to make a difference? What if I mess up? What if I can’t answer their questions? How do I deal with their issues, problems, addictions, disorders? What if they show up to my house at weird times? What if they ask for money?
Do any of these questions ring a bell for you?
It is easy to doubt our ability to love others when we focus on our perceived weaknesses. But God is way bigger than our weaknesses. The Bible says that in Christ we are new creations made to be His ambassadors. (2 Cor. 5:17-21) The new creature looks outwardly toward Christ instead of inwardly toward self. The new creature finds his strength not in his abilities or experience but in Christ who renews, guides, leads, and never leaves us. It is Jesus who will carry us past our fears and into action.
God has called us to love our neighbor (Mark 12:31) and serve the poor around us, (Luke 12:33) and it is God who has called his followers to “follow him and he will make us fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19) If God has called us He will equip us and accompany us. Maybe not with the perfect words every time or the solution to every problem but with the grace to love and show kindness in the midst of our “battle.”
Having a little fear in facing our giants of serving is very normal. It’s a natural emotional reaction to doing something out of our comfort zone. But with a confidence in who we are in Christ, we can learn to face those fears and win. If you are nervous about a conversation you need to have with your “neighbor” or an opportunity to show a person in poverty God’s love, take heart and find strength in God. He is the same God that gave David the confidence to run to the battle lines, and he will give you that same strength to face your Goliath’s in serving.
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6