If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
would not God have discovered it,
since he knows the secrets of the heart? –Psalm 44:20-22
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” –1 Samuel 16:7
Last weekend I attended the funeral of a former coworker. She was a young, single mother who, sadly, took her own life. Like many situations in which someone takes their own life, it was shocking to everyone who knew her. Many people felt a similar shock in August when actor Robin Williams took his own life. In both situations, the contrast between their public personas and their private, inner pain was significant, but unknown by even those closest to them. It highlights just how deeply people can hide their inner pain, and how well some are able to put on a mask to do so. For me, it emphasizes the importance of being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit tends to speak at the most unexpected times, when our focus is elsewhere or our spiritual radar is on pause. I look back over the past few years and wonder, were there times the Spirit was trying to alert me that this person was hurting? Did I miss it because I was too busy? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. Even if the Spirit had tried to prompt me to reach out to this person, however, it still may not have ultimately changed the outcome. Yet I can’t help but wonder how many other daily interactions I encounter when I might miss the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps there are more opportunities for the Spirit to work through me and prompt me that someone needs encouragement or comfort. In these kinds of situations, I must acknowledge I am completely dependent on the Spirit to show me that someone is hiding inner pain. I may not be able to detect it by the expression on their face, but God knows what is behind the mask they wear. He may be able to prompt me to simply ask, “How are you really doing?” My gut may tell me something isn’t right, and it’s up to me to recognize that that sensation is the Holy Spirit tapping on my shoulder, saying, “Hey, this person needs help.”
It’s funny how often we ask God to use us, and then miss it because He doesn’t use us how or when we expect. It seems to be part of the human condition, to expect something different than what God has planned (pick about any story in the Bible and you’ll see God move in ways no one expected). But thank you, Lord, for Your grace, which is sufficient for us! Your grace fills in the cracks and holes where our humanness doesn’t quite meet the need. Hallelujah! You don’t just send us out to do Your work, You say, “Come with Me, and we’ll do it together.”
Let’s commit to being more in tune with the Holy Spirit in our day-to-day lives. Let’s agree to be more aware of God partnering with us in everything we do; not just things that seem spiritual, but in all aspects of living. There is a world full of hurting people in emotionally dark places that are starving for some light and hope. God can use us to be His light to those people, He only asks that we be tuned in and available. He does the rest, for it is by His might, not ours!