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Caring for the Hurting (Psalm 142:1-7)

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained

Too deeply for mirth or song,

As the burdens press, and the cares distress,

And the way grows weary and long?

Does Jesus care when my way is dark

With a nameless dread and fear?

As the daylight fades into deep night shades,

Does He care enough to be near?

Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed

To resist some temptation strong;

When for my deep grief there is no relief,

Though my tears flow all the night long?

Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”

To the dearest on earth to me,

And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks—

Is it aught to Him? Does He see?

Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,

His heart is touched with my grief;

When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,

I know my Savior cares.

(Frank E. Graeff)

“I cry out to the Lord with my voice; with my voice to the Lord I make my supplication. I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk they have secretly set a snare for me. Look on my right hand and see, for there is no one who acknowledges me; refuge has failed me; no one cares for my soul. I cried out to You, O Lord: I said, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name; the righteous shall surround me, for You shall deal bountifully with me” (Psalm 142:1-7 NKJV).

“I cry out loudly to God, loudly I plead with God for mercy. I spill out all my complaints before him, and spell out my troubles in detail: As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away, you know how I’m feeling, know the danger I’m in, the traps hidden in my path. Look right, look left—There’s not a soul who cares what happens! I’m up against it, with no exit—bereft, left alone. I cry out, God, call out: ‘You’re my last chance, my only hope for life!’ Oh listen, please listen; I’ve never been this low. Rescue me from those who are hunting me down; I’m no match for them. Get me out of this dungeon so I can thank you in public. Your people will form a circle around me and you’ll bring me showers of blessing!” (Psalm 142:1-7 The Message, MSG),

This Psalm is a Song of Lament. A Psalm of Lament is an expression of grief before God. We hear the strong, emotional words of sufferers. Laments are written by real people, in very difficult situations. These godly sufferers know that God will not be angry with their honesty, for even when they “vent” to God, they believe, that in the end, He will come through for them!

The author is King David “A man after God’s own heart,” (Acts 13:22) David was Israel’s greatest king. He wholeheartedly loved God. He defeated Israel’s enemies, expanded the nation’s borders, and established Jerusalem as its political and religious center. His military, political and religious innovations initiated Israel’s golden age and unified the Hebrew people as never before.

But when Psalms 142 was written, this former shepherd boy and not-yet-king was running for his life! Although God had anointed David to be the next king (1 Samuel 16), King Saul, the present king had lost the right to pass the throne to an heir because of his disobedience, was hunting David down with the intention of killing him.

This Psalm is a prayer, the substance of which David offered up to God when he was forced by Saul to take shelter in a cave…David had been disowned and deserted by his friends, he was in the slough of despair. In verse four he expresses how he felt, “No one cares for my soul.” David was wondering if anyone cared about him.

Have you been there? I know I have! The year was 1983, the darkest year of my ministry, actually one of the worst times in my Christian life! I was in that slough of despair. I wondered if anyone really cared about me. I cried a lot! I was constantly asking, “Where are You, Lord?” I’m certain I must have said what David said, “No one cares for my soul.” The church I was pastoring at the time was in trouble, or perhaps it would be more honest to say, “the church had trouble with me.” My friends and family tried to help, but they didn’t know the depth of despair I was going through at that time. I really thought God had gone on vacation and had taken the checkbook with Him. But someone did care! Other than close personal friends checking on me, I will be forever grateful for three phone calls that began to lift my darkened spirit. First…Doctor Ainslie, my personal physician, who was a believer (He was in California, I was in Texas), helped me with some medical decisions I had to make. Next, Dr. Jerry Falwell, a long time friend phoned me just to encourage me and offer me some badly needed advice. Then, my friend Dr. John MacArthur phoned, prayed with me, encouraged me, and assured me that God was not dead, that helped to lift my dark spirit. Each of them reminded me that God was still here for me. Getting the right medicine for my body and the right advice for my spirit, changed my whole outlook. Just to know that someone cared was all I needed!

Have you ever been where things look hopeless? You looked to others for help, only to find that they are completely indifferent and apathetic to your problems. Have you ever cried out in your despair, “Doesn’t anyone care what happens to me, or what happens in my life?”

We live in the midst of a world of hurting people who want to know if anyone really cares about them. “Care,” means “to have thought or regard for another.” As believers we must be a people who care for the hurting.

1. Are we aware of the needs of others?

We say we love God, other believers and the lost. “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle” (Romans 12:9 MSG). Let love be genuine!

Are we aware of those within our sphere of influence who are in constant physical pain? People who are suffering, maybe in your own household, from such present-day, common ailments as, cancer, heart trouble, arthritis, fibromyalgia, or diabetes, just to name a few.

Are we aware of those who have physical limitations and can’t do the things that we can, shut-ins, who can’t go shopping, or even work around their own homes. Consider the paraplegic man our LORD encountered at the Pool of Bethesda. “When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” (John 5;6,7).

Are we aware of those who are alienated from society, having socially unacceptable diseases? Statistically there are about seventy-million Americans with sexually transmitted diseases. In some major cities the one in five have STDs.

Are we aware of those with addictions? Drug and alcohol abuse is a serious problem in our society and it effects everyone, rich and poor; young and old; educated and uneducated; Christian and non-Christian. There are more than three-million problem drinkers in America’s high schools.

Are we aware of those who are suffering emotionally? Statistics show that one in four Americans face some form of psychological or mental challenge.

Are we aware of the hurt in the home? Look at the condition of marriage, even in many Christian homes. The high divorce rate is almost the same among unbelievers and believers. Today, more children are being raised in single-parent homes than those having both parents in the home. Six out of ten couples will experience some form of violence in their marriage. In America, there is a woman battered every nine seconds. More than four-hundred while you’re reading this! There are millions of reported child abuse cases reported every year in America.

Are we aware of the hurting, lonely people in despair in our church, and in our neighborhood. Listen to the words from James Weldon Johnson’s, “Creation” from God’s Trombones, “And God stepped out on space, and He looked around and He said, ‘I’m lonely, I’ll make Me a world,’ After God created everything, He says, ‘I’m lonely still. I’ll make Me a man.” That’s wonderful, if you’re God! But how do mere mortals like us, who find it hard to make a living, let alone a world, deal with pain, world problems, loneliness and depression?

Do you know someone who feels like the person who wrote this poem?

If I were a cloud, I’d sit and cry.

If I were the sun I’d sit and sigh.

But I’m not a cloud, nor am I the sun.

I’m just sitting here, boing no one.

If I were the wind, I’d blow here and there.

If I were the rain, I’d fall everywhere.

If I were the snow, I’d fall oh so gently.

If I were the sea, waves would roll over me.

But I’m not the snow, nor am I the sea.

I’m just a no one, and oh so lonely.

(Author unknown)

I do not know who wrote this poem, but I’m certain there are people within our sphere of reference who fell like this:

I hurt all the time. I don’t want to cry for the way I feel inside.

I just want someone to hold me…

I’m alone in the dark, please try to find me.

If no one cares, I don’t see the point in going on.

Anyone find me! Anyone care!

I’m sorry, I just don’t want to be alone anymore.

I feel unheard and unseen, depressed and weak.

No one cares, and yet I’m always the sorry one.

Someone find me! I’m scared!

Please hold me until it all ends.

Just hold me, that’s all I want.

I don’t want to be alone in the dark.

Just hold me as I disappear from the light.

Just hold me as I start to cry.

Just hold me so I won’t be alone inside.

Just hold me so I don’t do something wrong.

Just hold me tight, that for a moment I could feel the light.

(Author unknown)

Are we aware of those lonely, hurting people who have a hard time with holidays, such as, Mother’s day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving or Christmas. We miss our loved-ones then more than any other time of year. I am the last child living of a family of ten. I remember the family get-togethers, with standing-room only in the house. I miss all the tumult, ours was a noisy family.

When I phoned an acquaintance one day, his eighty-five year old mother answered the phone. I said, “I’m so sorry to disturb you.” She replied, “I love being disturbed.” Disturb some hurting person today! You could light a fire on the hills of heaven for some lonely, hurting person with just a phone call!

An eighty-four year old woman, living in a run-down apartment in Los Angeles, sent this message to the L.A. Times, “I’m so lonely I could die–so alone. I can’t write. My fingers and hands pain me. I see no human beings. My phone never rings. I hear from no one, never have any kind of holidays, no kind. My birthday is this month. Isn’t anyone else lonely like me? I don’t know what to do.” She enclosed some stamps and a one-dollar bill, hoping that someone would call or write her. When the Newspaper man phoned her she burst into tears.

Sara Teasdale. 1988-1933, wrote, “My soul is a dark plowed field in the cold rain. My soul is a broken field, plowed by pain.”

Mother Theresa of Calcutta said, “Loneliness and the feeling of being uncared for and unwanted are the greatest poverty.”

A few years ago the news carried a heart rending story about a young father, James Lee, who had shot himself in a tavern telephone booth. He had called a Chicago Newspaper and told a reporter that he had sent the Newspaper a manila envelope outlining his story. The reporter tried frantically to trace the call, but it was too late. When the police arrived the young man was slumped down in the phone booth with a bullet in his head. In his pockets they found a child’s crayon drawing, much folded and worn. On it was written, “Please leave this in my coat pocket, I want to be buried with it.” The drawing was signed in childish print by his daughter, Shirley, who had died in a fire just five months before. This young father was so grief-stricken, that he had asked total strangers to attend his daughter’s funeral, so she could have a nice service. He said there was no family to attend, Shirley’s mother had been dead since Shirley was two years old. Speaking to the reporter before he died, this heartbroken father said, all he have left in life was gone and he felt so alone. He gave his modest estate to the church where Shirley had attended and said, “Maybe in ten or twenty years, someone will see one of the plaques and wonder who Shirley Ellen Lee was, and say, ‘Someone must have loved her very much.’”

This grieving father could not live with the loneliness and loss, so he took his own life. He must have thought is was better to be dead than to try to live in an impersonal world. There are many James Lee’s all around us, but they don’t wear signs that say, “I’m hurting, please won’t you help me!”

It may be the loss of a loved-one, divorce, relocation, depression, homelessness, or just someone who doesn’t know what it means to have a caring friend.

•Are we aware of those with troubled lives? Do we have compassion on those who are caught up in immorality, adultery, homosexuality, pornography, convicts, ex-convicts, and rebellious young people.

2. Do we have an empathetic uneasiness about the needs of others? Do the needs of others disturb us?

“We must never minimize the needs of others? (Billy Graham).

Where are the Christians who, as a part of their responsibility in life, carry the burdens and wounds of others, and are outraged by them?

“Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also” (Hebrews 13:3, NKJV).

“Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love. Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!” (Hebrews 13:3, MSG).

“This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, and cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’” (Isaiah 58:6-9).

By our communication. It is not for us to assume that others know that we care about them. Our job is to commit random acts of kindness. Send a note, make a call, visit them, make it a point to gout of your way to show that you care about them. Do not be too proud to say, “I love you!” I care about you!” What will it cost you to phone that aunt on uncle, grandmother or grandfather, or that friend who is now living alone or in a nursing home?

Listen to the caring Apostle Paul, “Just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace” (Philippians 1:7).

By our Action. Look at faith in action! “Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this life if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? (James 2:15-17, MSG). “Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world” (James 1:26,27 MSG).

A good way to forget your own troubles is to help others in theirs. “Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived” (Galatians 6:2 MSG). “Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” (Romans 15:1,2 MSG).

3. The Church is in crisis.

There are more than four-hundred-thousand churches in America, four-hundred-fifty thousand ordained ministers. Yet there are ten-thousand towns in which there is not even one church! Towns just like yours filled with hurting people.

Church can be the loneliest and the most uncaring place of all, because we expect to be loved, to be cared for, to feel a touch from God, and be warmed by the Word of God and the fellowship of others. But in some churches people are scolded for not living right, not giving right, not dressing right, and they hear of building programs, socials, politics and corruption in the world. And our hungry, troubled, anguished, and lonely soul goes unattended and we walk out as empty as when we came in.

Far too many Sunday School teachers teach lessons, but never touch the children for God or for good. Always remember, we teach children, not lessons!

Far too many Pastors preach sermons, but never touch the real needs of their parishioners. Some are just too academic! Now I admit that the pulpit is no place for ignorance! God’s people have a right to know what God says, but with compassion and kindness, not with harsh words that hurt. Pastor, remember, you are preaching to hurting people.

Far too many church people sit side by side in long pews and never touch each other. They look and smile, but never see the pain behind the smile, or the anguish of their soil or the loneliness in their life.

What should the church be doing? Helping hurting people. The church is a fellowship of believers. The Greek word, “Koininia,” literally means, “common ground, or a commonness that results in a true spirit of togetherness.” It is, simple put, “All in the family.” Leprosy is a disease that destroys the pain censors. Those who have it cannot feel, that’s why they must constantly do body checks to see if they have been injured. Too many churches are suffering from leprosy, unable to feel the hurt of others.

There are fifty-nine “One Another’s” in Scripture. Here are just a few:

•“Greet one another” (Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20).

•“Comfort one another” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

•“Forgive one another” Colossians 3:13). (Col. 3:13)

•“Build one another up” (Romans 15:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:11).

•“Serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

•“Bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).

•“Encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25).

•“Meet with one another” (Hebrews 10:25).

•“Be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving toward one another” (Ephesians 4:32).

•“Receive (welcome) one another as Christ received us” (Romans 15:7).

•“Care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:25).

•“Minister one to another” (1 Peter 4:10). 

•“Show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9).

•“Pray for one another (James 5:16).

“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ… And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 26).

Several problems come to mind.

The problem of not caring. Do we really stop to think that other people have problems. Our love must be like God’s love, with mercy and compassion. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Mercy is God’s love in action. GOD SO LOVED, THAT HE GAVE! “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4,5).

The problem of selfishness. Are our lives so busy we just can’t fit anyone else in? “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard” (Proverbs 21:13). “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (1 Corinthians 10:24).

Right in your own community, there are hundreds of hurting, lonely people, retired people whose family’s are gone. Take them a pie! Mow their lawn or rake leaves, offer to clean their house, or run errands for them, fix something, or maybe just offer yourself for an hour a week for anything they need. Read the Bible for people in a nursing home. Visit someone in the hospital, or help in one of the homeless shelters in your community.

Take the words of our LORD to heart: “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:35-40 MSG).

An elderly woman lived all alone. She was partly crippled and had to rely on the good will and help of her neighbors. She spent some of her weary hours keeping a diary, although no one knew why; for she had precious little to record. Finally, the LORD called her home to enjoy the blessings of His better land. It was reported that she lay dead for several days before anyone missed her. In looking through her few belongings, they found her diary. Most of the book contained nothing of interest. In fact, near the end of her life, as one monotonous day followed another, she wrote only three pathetic words on page after page, “No one came!” “No one came!”

Amazing grace shall always by my song of praise

For it was grace that bought my liberty

I do not know just why He came to love me so

He looked beyond my fault and saw my need

I shall forever Lift mine eyes to Calvary

To view the cross Where Jesus died for me

How marvelous the grace That caught my falling soul

He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.”

(Dottie Rambo)

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