I’ve been a social worker for 20 years. The profession wasn’t my first choice. I kind of fell into it because, though I didn’t know what I wanted ‘to be’ when I applied to university, I did know that I wanted to help people. That started my professional journey into the harsh realities of human suffering. People’s lives were messy, complicated, and, often, painful. As a naturally empathetic person, I often felt overwhelmed and helpless. I struggled with my role as a helper to the point of getting sick, and the thought of doing the job until retirement drove me deep into waves of stress and anxiety.
But, recently, that began to change once I started to see things differently.
Lessons from the prophet Micah:
This morning, I felt the need to read the Word. That’s a big deal for me, because for a long time I struggled to pick up the Bible and read for more than a few minutes, if at all. But lately, I’ve begun to look forward to my time with God, and the more we talk, the more I realize the need to support our relationship with the Word.
As I said, this morning I felt the need to read. So, I flipped through the minor prophets until I came to Micah and stopped at this:
Israel’s Misery (NIV)
7 What misery is mine!
I am like one who gathers summer fruit
at the gleaning of the vineyard;
there is no cluster of grapes to eat,
none of the early figs that I crave.
2 The faithful have been swept from the land;
not one upright person remains.
Everyone lies in wait to shed blood;
they hunt each other with nets.
3 Both hands are skilled in doing evil;
the ruler demands gifts,
the judge accepts bribes,
the powerful dictate what they desire—
they all conspire together.
4 The best of them is like a brier,
the most upright worse than a thorn hedge.
The day God visits you has come,
the day your watchmen sound the alarm.
Now is the time of your confusion.
5 Do not trust a neighbor;
put no confidence in a friend.
Even with the woman who lies in your embrace
guard the words of your lips.
6 For a son dishonors his father,
a daughter rises up against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.
Aside from my work, like a lot of people, I’ve felt generally discouraged by the chaos in the world. The news is depressing, everyone is decrying injustice and fraud, and we are killing the environment. Even the movies we turn to for distraction are often bleak and dystopian in nature.
When I read Micah, I realized that what we are seeing and experiencing today is nothing new. The evil, malice, disregard for decency and rebellion in our relationships inside and outside the home have always existed. His world sounds just like ours!
Then I thought: what we bear now during one lifetime is what God has been bearing since the Fall.
That put more than a few things in context.
Thankfully for us, Micah doesn’t stop there:
7 But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me.
Israel Will Rise
8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light.
9 Because I have sinned against him,
I will bear the Lord’s wrath,
until he pleads my case
and upholds my cause.
He will bring me out into the light;
I will see his righteousness.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the darkness and despair around us, but this verse reminds us that we have reason and cause to hope. This verse reminds us of God’s faithfulness, that He’s trustworthy, and that He is the Light. If we trust Him, He will lead us out of despair to Him, the safest place to be.
As a social worker, I’ve always known that I can’t solve anyone’s problems. Most of my families’ issues are too big for any one person to solve. Once I accepted my weakness and turned to God for wisdom, He brought the solutions and resources that were needed. Eventually, I understood that when I trusted Him and focused on what I could do, that made the difference. The results might be small, but many small successes accumulating over time eventually result in one big solution.
How does that relate to Christians using our talents?
Whether we are a professional or an amateur, God gave us gifts and talents for a reason. Yes, we get personal pleasure out of them, but what if God has a larger, more global purpose for our work? God could easily swoop in and fix everything, but He chooses to use people, often regular, even atypical people, to change the world.
Our stories, photographs, plays, and paintings might not seem like much, but art is often the vehicle that stimulates change. Think of all the books, speeches, essays, painting, plays, and movies/documentaries throughout history that have packed such powerful punches that influenced social change.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NIV)
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
We, as Christian Creatives, figure into God’s Master Plan. If we all do our part by serving Him with our talents, can you imagine the global impact it could have?