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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “A Friend in Deed”

I wonder just how many of us out there have ever “pulled a Pinkie”. Oh, I’m sure none of us could ever match a cartoon character’s energy or violate the space-time continuum for the sake of a gag, but there’s something else in this episode that occurred that many of us might have repeated.

In this episode, Pinkie Pie meets a new resident to Ponyville and attempts to befriend him. She does everything she can think of; including singing welcome songs, checking out every piece of his memorabilia and possessions, getting a “party wagon” to match his own wagon, and even giving him gifts and services. Unfortunately, none of this works in earning his friendship. Often it ends up in disaster, making him angrier with her at each failed attempt. However, she eventually succeeds when she manages to pick up the clues from what he’s been saying to her to realize he’s looking for his old girlfriend from years ago, and manages to reunite the two. Even then, however, she discovers that what he would like to do more than anything is spend some time quietly with her rather than jump into any of Pinkie’s more festive celebrations.

While this can be a bit of a more “child-appropriate” example, it really does reflect reality. Everyone is different and no two people are exactly the same, but there are certain things we can say that most people like or do, at least. Most people like going to the movies once in a while, for example. Most people like heading out to the zoo or amusement parks. Most people do some sort of celebration for the Christmas-time-frame holidays, even if it’s not Christmas. Most people eat some form of pizza or hamburgers. But not everyone. And it’s in the situations where most people like doing things one way that a person who stands out can leave others feeling awkward or even turn them off. Some people don’t like large crowds. Some people don’t like loud places. Some people don’t like heading out to parties or sporting events. Some people might prefer doing quiet activities or ones that are not nearly as conventional as others, like crafting, photography, or board games. And because they don’t like things that most other people do like, they can come off as disinterested or even hostile when trying to minister to them or reach out to them with things we assume everyone will like.

However, where this really starts to hit home is in more serious matters, such as grief from loss of a loved one, a tragedy that leaves a person crippled or disabled, or something such as a terminal illness; situations that make the one affected, even at the best of times, want to cry out to Heaven: “Why, God?” That’s the situation where a person who believes themselves to be a faithful and effective Christian may feel the temptation to try and step in and start talking. Start espousing Scripture to the individual, or talk about the suffering of saints throughout history, or start to offer anecdotes or quotes that sound inspiring, or suggest how they should react or feel at a time like this, or even say the infamous pat line “I know how you feel”.

The fact of the matter is none of us will EVER know how they feel, because we aren’t them. No one has the right to anyone else’s emotions. And the last thing these individuals may want to hear is a pat answer for why there’s suffering in the world and, even if it’s true, why this tragedy had to happen to them. While feeling the urge to say all of this may be what we think is the “Christian” thing to do and that we’re somehow failing Jesus if we don’t, people don’t always need a verbal sermon and giving one might not only be cold comfort but only make things worse; making them angry at others or even make them feel, on top of everything else, ashamed of their own grief.

There are many ways in which was can be as Christ to people. Not everyone needs to be preached to. Sometimes it’s a kind gesture, or a word of welcome. Sometimes it’s inviting them to something simple like coffee if they’ve gone years of their lives with no one ever offering to sit and talk with them a while. And sometimes it’s simply silence and sitting alongside someone who’s grieving; agreeing to be “there for them” and sharing in their sadness as well as their joys. Perhaps just one willing to stop what they’re doing and to be at the side of the one who is struggling, waiting patiently until they’re ready to say something, is enough.

Lord Jesus came to Earth preaching the Good News and to become the Savior of mankind by sharing in everything about the human experience. That included all the joys and sorrows. Jesus went to weddings, and He also wept over the dead. He taught in the public places of worship where everyone could flock to Him, and also stayed in the homes of the outcasts of His society. In everything He was an effective minister, whether it was in publicly shouting down the religious leaders of the day or asking a passing woman for a drink from a well. In all things, He was what the people around Him “needed Him to be” at that moment.

Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” Like Jesus, Paul knew that one couldn’t just say the Gospel or talk to people in one way on one level, but that he had to try to come and meet them where they were at. Paul further said in Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Not preaching. Not exhorting to abandon grief, or offering suggestions or Biblical anecdotes. Just simply rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Ultimately, the greatest testimony any of us will ever give is our own lives, and it will override anything else we’ve said or done. Therefore, the best testimony to reach the “unreachable” and to comfort those in despair or depression might not be how well we can recall the Gospel, but how well we can apply it.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you that no matter who I am or where I’ve come from, you are always willing to meet me exactly where I am; whether I be extroverted or introverted, whether I be popular or an outcast, and whether I be sitting on top of the world or lying in a gutter. As you constantly reach out to meet me where I am and respond to me according to my need, so help me to live the same way and always be as Christ to those who need you in whatever way is necessary. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”