Christian Concourse Ministry Newsletter – March 2024

Dear Friend, in this short letter we are trying to highlight a harsh reality often encountered by God’s children in the circumstances of their lives. We understand that the chapter from Holy Scripture that we quote below is not the last word on suffering or a commentary on the final destiny of Christian believers. But, there is a picture painted here in this Psalm that accurately portrays the narrow straits some of our brothers and sisters find themselves enduring today – right now as you read this.

If we are not paying attention, it is very easy to miss this desperate condition of the soul that a fellow human being may be struggling with. When we are not under a cloud of loneliness and loss, it is easy for us to glaze over this kind of pain when we encounter it. It takes the energy of divine love to relate to the suffering of others!

Those in nursing home ministry encounter souls who are suffering deeply. The temptation is to offer platitudes or quickly quote Bible verses. This may be the best we can do at the time, but we must accept the possibility that our superficial response could be exposing our unwillingness to truly look at and relate to the hurt being borne by the person before us. We would do well to take in the message of hopeless desperation the writer of Psalm 88 was trying to express to his God…the God Who seemed so distant, so unresponsive, so indifferent! You will note that the chapter ends with no resolution, no answer, no deliverance, no supernatural intervention!

Psalm 88 (ESV)

1 O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out day and night before you. 2 Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry! 3 For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. 4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am a man who has no strength, 5 like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand. 6 You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep. 7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah

8 You have caused my companions to shun me; you have made me a horror to them. I am shut in so that I cannot escape; 9 my eye grows dim through sorrow. Every day I call upon you, O Lord; I spread out my hands to you. 10 Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah

11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in Abaddon? 12 Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? 13 But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. 14 O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? 15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless. 16 Your wrath has swept over me; your dreadful assaults destroy me. 17 They surround me like a flood all day long; they close in on me together. 18 You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness.

All of Christ’s children are messengers of God’s love and grace. We are not sent to minister His love to others without tools to help the hurting. The main thing each of us can do is just listen and minister to them with our quiet, prayerful presence in the moments God gives us together. Sometimes we can prayerfully, humbly share the wisdom we have learned in the long hours of our own loneliness or pain. This is more than just reeling off Bible verses. Rather, we are referring to our speaking the Truth that is actually living in our own heart that God has taught us in the furnace. These two things are powerful spiritual tools Holy Spirit can use to strengthen faith in the heart of His hurting child. But, most of all, a life of prayer and constant communion with our Master sharpens our usefulness in His hands. Let us consider God’s measureless love and the impact His love has made in our own life. In His hands we can be a catalyst of cool water for His suffering, thirsty children.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. And thank you for the kindness you have shown us with your support, especially your prayers. May we all go into our hurting world as ministers of God’s love and peace.

With Sincere Love,

Jerry and Dar Johnson

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