Churches should be reliable centers for dispensing hope. In a world full of complex challenges, we must continue to help people with optimistic demeanors.
When I hear stories of hurt, pain, and rejection, I often find myself overwhelmed with how to offer encouragement. Frankly, sometimes I wonder if something good can happen from it. Have you ever been so shocked at a set of circumstances that you doubted if it could improve? I know I have, but I also know Jesus. I am reminded of all that He has done and all that He can do.
As Jesus’ ministry increased, He continually met more needy people and angry opponents. When the Pharisees were once upset at Jesus for healing a man on the wrong day of the week, His disciple Matthew made an important connection about Jesus’ ministry.
As he compiled his biography on Jesus, he referenced a prophecy about the Messiah from Isaiah. Within those verses, an incredible ministry concept is shared:
a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quenchMatthew 12:20
A Bruised Reed
A reed was a stalk of sorts. It was often used as a cane. People would use a reed as a walking staff if they either needed help walking because the journey was too rough or because their legs were too weak.
Envision someone trying to get somewhere with a damaged cane. Many people would just break it and be done with it. Not Jesus. He doesn’t take someone in a weakened condition or daunting circumstances and kicks them why they are down. The Messiah doesn’t break a bruised reed.
A Smoldering Wick
A wick is the top of the candle. In Jesus’ day, a candle was not used for ambience but out of necessity. Without electricity, when it got dark, it got really dark. A candle was necessary to see the way when times got dark. If the candle began to flicker and the wick began to smolder, you knew that it was about to get dark and frightening.
Have you ever tried to get somewhere in complete darkeness? Dependent on a guiding light, you almost feel frozen due to fear of the endangering darkness. Some people would go ahead and snuff out the limping light but not Jesus. He protects it and ensures that light still comes from it. A smoldering wick He will not quench.
A Helpful Church
If you aren’t aware of it, you have a bunch of bruised reeds and smoldering wicks in your congregation. They do not need people to be overcome with doubt; they need people relentless in offering hope. Yes, the reeds are bruised by they are not broken. Yes, the wicks are smoldering, but they are not quenched.
I think we all need hope. I think we all need people desirous to help. My prayer as I serve a church is that we remain a place that offers hopeful help. With every dire story that comes in our doors we respond with a mentality that God hasn’t given up on you and neither have we. We believe every person can still make progress in the things that matter most.
I’d have given up a long time ago without hope. And I’ve seen God do too much to retreat from that now.