Recently I shared a seven part series about God’s call to help the forgotten, poor, and downtrodden.

03/04/12 “Who Sees?” (Chad Hovind)



When you think about all the needs in the world, it’s hard to not get overwhelmed.  The sheer numbers of those hurting and starving is staggering. Every day, 35,615 children die from the worst possible death imaginable: Starvation. 85% of these deaths occurs in children 5 years of age or younger.   Imagine 35,000 little three year olds a day dying in this condition.  It’s tragic, but it’s so BIG, that it’s overwhelming.  It’s hard to think about. It’s hard not to just shut down and disconnect. These are children who have Conditioned Hopelessness.   They have been conditioned to be hopeless about life, food, and their future.

But, despite the ways we are mobilizing to help those who are hurting….it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  As a staff, I hear about the real needs and pains daily.  Here’s a sample of the last month:

  • I got a call from a husband who came home and found his house empty as his wife packed the bags and the kids.
  • I talked to a family whose daughter was raped.
  • I listened as a woman shared about a tragic secret in her life that she’s hidden for 34 years.
  • I heard about a man whose mom wanted to meet with him to share something God had told her…only to tell him that she was incredibly disappointed in the way he was turning out.
  • A friend who went through two years of hell as wife flipped out and left he and three kids.
  • I got a call from another friend who lost his lost job when a church split down middle.

And the lists go on and on… perhaps for you it’s another friend can’t afford Christmas gifts for kids, or little girls who can’t afford school in Belize end up in prostitution, orphans have no one to hug them, play with them, or even remember their name in Mexico.   How do we respond to all this need?   In the church we hear about all of it. Divorce, families breaking up, cancer, bad report, loss of job.  And if you go to a third world country…  you are just stunned by the size and scope of the problem….  So what do you do? Ignore it, become overwhelmed by it… Be  a “realist” and know that it’s not going to be fixed.  We just sit by as the sex trade grows, orphans are forgotten, and corrupt governments let their citizens starve. As followers of Christ… we are challenged by Jesus to “do unto others as you would have them have unto you…”  Jesus told us that “what we do to the least of these, is a chance to do unto Him.”

“A group of students from Trinity evangelical Divinity School outside of Chicago, did a little experiment. They went through all 66 books of the Bible and underlined every passage and verse that dealt with poverty,the hurting, and oppression. Then, one students took a pair of scissors and physically cut every one of those verses out of the Bible. The result was a volume in tatters that barely held together. Beginning with the Mosaic books, through the books of history, the Psalms and Proverbs, and the Major and Minor Prophets, to the four Gospels, the book of Acts, the epistles and into Revelation, so central were these themes to Scripture that the resulting Bible was in shambles. A Bible without a call to help the hurting, would be similar to putting the message through a shredder.

So, here is the dilemma.  We know that on the one hand…we can’t really fix it or solve it…it’s just too big!!  It’s a combination of corrupt global forces we can’t change that exploit people as well as needs so great they are unquenchable…  We end up with Conditioned Hopelessness.  We end up conditioned to be hopeless about being part of the solution. We are conditioned to ignore, move on, and to withdraw.  So we have Hurting People with Conditioned Hopelessness. AND we have resourced people with Conditioned Hopelessness.

On the other hand, we can’t ignore it and turn a blind eye to it. What are we supposed to do? If you’ve every felt overwhelmed, you know how Jesus and His disciples felt.  The needs are huge… healing, confusion, pain, and now physical needs for food from over 5000 people.

When You’re Overwhelmed, You Under-React

When we get overwhelmed, we under-react. We figure the need is so big… there is nothing we can really do to make any change.  So we under-react and do nothing.  It makes sense, no matter how powerful you are, how influential you are, or how much money you have, the reality is that the problems of family decay, divorce, pain, sickness, poverty, sex trade, starvation are SOOO big, and SOOO complicated, that it’s overwhelming.  And when we get overwhelmed, it’s natural to under-react.  The disciples did this first hand.

Mark 6:30 Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. 31And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.  33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities.

Jesus was spent. So were the disciples. Jesus advised them to pull back, and recharge, to rest for a while.  But, “many” were coming and going.  More and more need was building up. It was unstoppable. It was neverending.  They were so busy  meeting needs that they “didn’t even have time to eat.”  They tried to get away to recharge, but the multitudes saw them departing and ran to the other side of the lake where they would debark and were waiting for them.  They tempted to disengage, to send away, get away, forget about it.   And here Jesus and his disciples go through a two step process.

They arrived before them and came together to Him. 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. 35 When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. 36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.”

Jesus shows us the stages of engaging your heart with the forgotten.

1. You first need is to “See the need.”

2. When you see the need, you will have “compassion.”

Jesus saw the need, had compassion, felt and realized they were like sheep with a shepherd.  The disciples however have conditioned hopelessness. Too big of a crowd. Too much want. Too many mouths to feed.  They suggest that Jesus “send them away.” He suggested that they “go into the villages to get something to eat.”  This is what happens many times when we get overwhelmed… Send people to “someone” to get their needs met.

Jesus says…. No, Don’t forget the forgotten…   Don’t send them away.

37 But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.”

Jesus says, Don’t be conditioned to do nothing.  You give them something to eat.   And the disciples are immediately overwhelmed with the need. The size, the cost, and the scope…

And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?”

Jesus responds to their accurate assessment of the problem and says, “don’t think about what you don’t have and can’t do… instead tell me what you do have, and what you can do…”

38 But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Now, they come back from looking around. And they have something. They have five bread and two fish.

Often we don’t see what’s all around us because we don’t take time to look.

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