Since the start of Lent, the 40-plus-day journey many Christians take leading up to Easter, many ministers, priests, spiritual leaders and faith-based counselors have fielded questions from people who are seeking help with faith issues in their lives.
Many people have contacted the Stephen Ministry as well, trying to find answers to questions regarding their faith values, or lack of them. This time of year is the best of times and the worst of times for many when it comes to struggles with faith, family members, friends, fellow church congregants, denominations and church leadership. Many of these issues stem from loss of defined Christian behavior and character in our lives.
Do you ask hard questions about your faith or do you deny and dismiss your doubts and fears? When you feel the pain of injury, illness, disappointment, betrayal of character or breach of trust, do you express it through prayer? Or do you just slap on a smile and pretend it doesn’t exist, even when you are before the Lord? Do you understand that God wants to hear praise, but also — and perhaps more importantly — your worst fears, doubts, hurts and wants? He wants you to voice your feelings and bring them to Him.
Where can we find all of the answers we’re seeking? That may sound like a very difficult question when you are faced with issues that are beyond your understanding, but the right answer always is available to those who really seek it. It’s found by our desire to seek the truth in the word of God.
Most of us start each day wanting to follow what we have learned, to please God by living with the principals of Christian behavior, but we often find that we fall short. We live with the frustration of knowing that trying to stay on the narrow path and walk in His footsteps seems almost impossible with all the worldly distractions and temptations associated with taking the easy path and not making solid ethical decisions. We struggle with God’s ethical mandate to go beyond just hearing the word, to living it out in our daily conduct and character. We realize that we need to reconnect our work with God’s work, not concentrate on selfish pursuits or personal ambitions.
We also need to be concerned and observant of the needs of others when our own needs also are demanding. It’s important to God that we pass along whatever grace and strength he gives us to others every day. It may be hard to accept the fact that justification only comes by the grace of God through our faith and also will require results in our work.
We all know of people — some in our own families, our circles of friends or our churches — who supposedly have reputations of integrity and character. Later, we learn that it’s only an appearance; that behind it all, they were willing to compromise. Reputation is what you might do when everyone is watching, and genuine character is what you have when no one is watching. Your faith is always measured by your walk and work.
Stephen Ministers are trained and dedicated, faith-grounded caregivers. They can make a difference in your daily walks with faith. They will walk alongside you for as long as it takes. Call 912-320-7840 for a confidential, gender-sensitive, free appointment. The global Stephen Ministry Program provides care that changes lives.
Scherer is a crisis intervention minister and the leader of the local Stephen Ministry.