Here I am with a grown-up Patrick. He turned 21 today, March 19!
Last week, I experienced the blessing of having lunch and talking with the mother of a 5-year-old autistic boy. My heart swelled with admiration for this young wife and mother, who is pouring her heart and soul into her family. As we met, I remembered the early years of my son’s diagnosis with autism, and my heart went out to this brave mother.
She sent me an email later, thanking me for meeting with her and saying our time together helped to encourage her and give her hope. I felt my eyes moisten as I read her email. I experienced the deepest sense of gratitude that the Lord would allow me to encourage others on the special needs journey, or any journey for that matter.
Yet, that is just what the Lord does. He is a redeemer, through and through. He takes our hurt places and uses them to bring help and healing to others. So whatever struggles we face, those situations often become the very place God wants to use us to minister to others.
Once we have lived with a certain challenge ourselves, then we are doubly qualified to offer advice and encouragement regarding it to others. We have walked the road they now travel. Once someone has gone and experienced a foreign land, they are capable and competent to tell others about it because they have been there. That’s why Jesus warned Peter he would betray Him, and then gave him this direction: “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32, NIV). After his denial experience, Peter became uniquely qualified to counsel others who did the same.
The education minister at our church, who is also a counselor, says that most people have two basic needs: to be accepted, and to be understood. Once we have felt the pain of our particular challenges and hurts, we become extra sensitive to others who are going through the same experiences. “I know how you feel” comes from a deep place in our hearts. We receive them because our struggles have opened a window to see into their souls. The Bible calls this being “tender-hearted” (Ephesians 4:32, NASB). Over and over, it says the Lord is compassionate; our hurt places help shape us to show His compassion to others.
Our hurt places not only give us the credibility to help, and the empathy to help, but they also give us a parcel of tools to help. Time after time, as we have dealt with our challenges, we have acquired different tools to place in the toolbox of our lives. We learn what helps and what doesn’t as we face our hurt places. Without realizing it, we develop our skills and become master craftsmen in our trade. Then, when others find themselves in our “vocation,” we can allow them to be a sort of apprentice and learn from us, not in a proud fashion, but with humility and grace. That’s because we know the road is difficult, but also because, like the men on the road to Emmaus, we realize the Lord walks with us all the way (Luke 24:13-35).
We should embrace our hurt place, because the Lord wants to use it to let others know who He is and how He is walking with them in theirs. Our ministry rises out of our hurt place.
Question: How have you ministered to others from your hurt place? How have others ministered to you? Comment at the link below.
SPEAKING OF MINISTERING FROM THE HURT PLACE . . .
My son Patrick and I have written a book entitled OPTIMISM FOR AUTISM. It speaks of the Lord’s love and faithfulness during our ongoing challenges with Patrick’s autism. Our desire is that it might give encouragement and hope to others with long-lived struggles. We can always abound in hope with the Lord (Romans 15:13)!
Our book will be available on Amazon and at susanjaneking.com (for signed copies) on April 2.
Thank you for spreading the word about the book. Also, thanks to all of you who have joined our Book Launch Team. We are at 91 members . . . only 9 members away from our goal of 100!