Wednesday, February 4, 2015
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Of course the most boring part of any youth group outing is the long bus trip, especially if the trip is say from Michigan to Arizona. I once interviewed some kids who went on a mission trip to the Navajo Reservation from Michigan. I don't think they'll remember their trip as boring. Because of the carelessness of another driver, their bus had to swerve sharply at one point and the bus went off the road and started to roll all the way over into a ditch. Well you've got to know that was scary! One by one they emerged from the bus. Some of them were injured and they had to be treated at a local hospital, but thankfully no one was killed.
By the time they finally arrived at that reservation they were a pretty sorry looking bunch. They didn't exactly come running into that Native community. They came limping in and hurting. They weren't able to bring all their luggage with them, and some of the kids were on crutches, in braces, patched up, and bandaged.
And, you know, that's why those Navajo young people listened to those white kids from Michigan. The comments of the Native young people made it pretty clear. If those Michigan young people had arrived looking like they had no idea what pain meant, the Native youth who live in so much hurt probably would have never listened. But as one girl from the youth group said, "Our wounds were our credentials."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How Your Hurt Can Mean Hope for Others."
Our word for today from the Word of God is from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. It's about finding meaning in your pain; maybe the pain you're going through right now. Here's what it says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."
So you go through a hurting time. You know how the pain feels. You reach out to God for whatever resources He can give you to get through it and you start to experience God's greatness, God's grace, God's resources. And now you're qualified by those experiences to help other hurting people. You can tell them in a very personal way the difference Jesus makes in a hurting time. And just like those Native American young people with those banged-up white kids, they'll listen. You know why? Because you've been there.
It's almost ironic. The worst things that happen to you in your life teach you the most about your God, and they give you the best chance you'll ever have to tell people about Jesus Christ. Day after day you're with people who, just under the surface, are carrying so much pain, a lot of scars. And they won't listen to just anyone. They'll listen to someone who's been through a deep valley too; maybe someone like you.
Your pain can become your credentials to answer hurting lives with the love of Jesus Christ that you've experienced in your darkest hour. They might be close to someone who's had an uneventful journey. But they'll listen to someone whose bus has rolled and who carries some of the scars and the damage. Those are pretty hard earned credentials, ones you'd have never chosen to have. But they are credentials God can use mightily in a hurting world. He uses wounded messengers to become agents of His healing.
Look at His Son. Remember, Doubting Thomas didn't believe until he saw the wounds. You know some people like that. The pain you've been through may never make much sense to you until you see Jesus and He shows you the grand design of which that pain is a part. But until then, offer that pain to Him as credentials to make a difference for Him to other wounded people. To actually, maybe, even help them change their eternity by finding your Jesus. His wounded rescuer - that's you!
Remember, your wounds are your credentials.