Links Daily Devotional

Helping the Hurting

A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14, NIV 1984)

I spent the last two days monitoring the scoreboard from Myrtle Beach, where Links Players president Jeffrey Cranford was participating in the PGA Professional National Championship, the tournament at which more than 300 local club professionals attempt to be one of 20 players to qualify for the PGA Championship.

Still one of Southern California’s top competing club pros, Jeffrey qualifies to play in the PNC nearly every year. In 2006 he made it through to the PGA Championship at Medinah CC. In case you missed it, Jeffrey did not win the PGA that year; it went to some guy named Tiger Woods.

Back to Myrtle Beach. That leaderboard did not show me what I wanted to see. Jeffrey was struggling, big time. This was a bit surprising, because he has been playing well lately, including a tournament win earlier this month.

It’s hard to watch a friend struggle. We all know this. Divorce, addiction, cancer, faithlessness—these are the parched deserts of lost, lifeless wandering. And when a friend enters territory as difficult as this, all our cajoling and caring can fall on deaf ears. Where am I? the troubled soul demands. Where is God?

God, of course, never moves. He is the doctor at the bedside even when the patient is in a distant coma. We may not, in our darkest hours, see God. It is never true that he does not see us.

But despair is a mighty force—“…a crushed spirit who can bear?” It kicks a man when he is down, slaps a woman already harmed. But worse than any human emotion, worse than the physical symptoms accompanying depression, there is the nagging spiritual question of brokenness: doesn’t God care? For all who aren’t so sure they need God when the chips are stacked high in front of them, so many more want to believe when the creditors come calling. There’s nothing left of their strength, their wit, their savvy. Is there no one who can come to the rescue?

Well, here is good news in the midst of the grief: if the brokenness brings contrition, God is waiting. After all, is there a promise greater than this: “For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isaiah 57:15)?

If we are serious about helping the hurting, we take up a two-pronged approach: (1) We pray that our friend would not suffer a crushed spirit, except for the purpose that such brokenness drives them to the Lord where nothing else would. (2) We keep speaking the promises and presenting the testimonies of God’s faithfulness that the hope of his intervention would never leave our friend’s heart. Find the hurting ones today and make this your work among them.

Jeff Hopper
June 24, 2014
Copyright 2014 Links Players International
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