What Difference Do We Make Anyway? ~ Coaching 4 Health & Wellness

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What Difference Do We Make Anyway?

A while back, Dr. James Dobson, in Focus on the Family magazine, answered a question from a lady who asked why God answered a prayer to heal her son, but didn’t heal her husband. He responded that this is a sign of God’s sovereignty, but that He is always with us in these situations. He went on to tell about some friends of his, one who has lived with hemophilia from age 1 and this man’s wife who was cured of Hodgkin’s disease after intense prayer. The point of Dr. Dobson’s reply is that we do not always know why God says “yes” to certain prayers and “no” to other. It is God’s will that is in charge and not our own. Some are left to suffer and other healed, but that it all works out to fulfill God’s Plan.

What struck me as I was reading this article was that suffering and healing of Dr. Dobson's friends very much had a purpose. In this case, one purpose was to help him answer the lady’s question. It helped him explain to this lady that she is not alone in her questioning and that we have to trust that God is always with us regardless of the outcome. Our prayers matter but we may never see the results of those prayers.

Several years ago I had a conversation with a colleague of mine who was questioning what difference we really make in the world. During this particular time in her life, she was really struggling in her faith. Personally and professionally, she felt insignificant. We worked together and did similar tasks, but she did not see results in her work and was very frustrated. Spiritually, she had all but given up hope that God answered prayers. She then asked how I handled the frustration of trying so hard to make a difference in the lives of the people where we worked yet not seeming to have an impact. I told her it was due to faith.

Our job was to help manage the behavior of people who have mental retardation. In and of itself, it is a difficult job, but the bureaucracy of state government was even more difficult to manage. After a few years, I realized that my job really did not make a difference in the lives of these people. There had been dozens of therapist before me who did the same things I was doing; yet the same behaviors continued. Thus, the actual duties I performed did not have an impact. What did make a difference was me. I began to place less emphasis on my job duties and more emphasis on ministering to the needs of the individuals. I ministered by showing that I cared and by allowing God’s love to show through me. Still, results were scarce, but I had planted seeds and I had faith those seeds would grow.

I told my colleague that she could make a difference every day of her life if she approaches all she does with the faith that God is in control. Even seemingly minor, everyday activities can make a huge impact in the life of someone. Consider driving to work. The little courtesies you display, such as letting someone cut in front of you or allowing someone to turn before you can impact those other drivers lives. Perhaps they were having a hectic start to the day and your act of kindness was the one bright spot that started the day running smoothly. The catch is you will probably never know what impact you have had.

The same applies to work. If we approach work with the mindset that we are there to do God’s will in all we do, then picking up a dropped piece of paper or holding a door open can be the spark that starts a chain reaction of goodwill. Not to long ago, there was a movement to do “Random acts of kindness”. This was touted on the Oprah Winfrey Show, promoted by books such as Chicken Soup for the Soul, and other such venues. This was exactly what I was trying to describe to my colleague. By doing random acts of kindness, you give others a glimpse of God’s love for them. They may not realize that is what you are doing, but that tiny glimpse may be all they need to seek further the kingdom of God. Yet we may never see the results, but that is not really what matters, is it?


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