Ministry to the Miserable
by Charles R. Swindoll
Read Matthew 5:7
You don't run through an art gallery; you walk very slowly. You often stop, study the treasured works of art, and take time to appreciate what has been painted. You examine the texture, the technique, the choice and mixture of colors, the subtle as well as the bold strokes of the brush, the shadings. And the more valuable the canvas, the more time and thought it deserves. You may even return to it later for a further and deeper look, especially if you are a student of that particular artist.
In the gallery of His priceless work, the Lord God has included a portrait of vast value. It is the portrait of a servant carefully painted in words that take time to understand and appreciate. The frame in which the portrait has been placed is Jesus Christ's immortal Sermon on the Mount.
"Blessed are the merciful," Jesus said. Mercy is concern for people in need. It is ministry to the miserable. Offering help for those who hurt . . . who suffer under the distressing blows of adversity and hardship.
Those special servants of God who extend mercy to the miserable often do so with much encouragement because they identify with the sorrowing—they "get inside their skin." Rather than watching from a distance or keeping the needy safely at arm's length, they get in touch, involved, and offer assistance that alleviates some of the pain.
For years, a large group of collegians from our former church in Fullerton, California, would pile into a church bus at least one weekend a month and travel together—not to a mountain resort or the beach for fun-n-games, but to a garbage dump in Tijuana, Mexico, where hundreds of poverty-stricken Mexican families lived. Our young adults, under the encouraging leadership of Kenneth Kemp (one of our pastoral staff team members), brought apples and other foodstuff plus money they had collected to share with those in that miserable existence. There were times when the students could hardly believe what they saw and heard and smelled as they witnessed raw, unmasked poverty in the garbage dump at Tijuana.
What were they doing? They were showing mercy . . . a ministry to others that is born out of the womb of identification.
In our isolated, cold society, mercy is rarely demonstrated.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.