Making a Difference

Nothing I Do Makes a Difference

“There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” (John 6:9)

Life can mess with our heads. It can make us believe our actions make no difference, that what we do doesn’t matter.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, everything we do matters.

In John, chapter six, a child whose name we don’t even know offered up his lunch to feed thousands of people. Why would he do such a ridiculous thing? He must have known his little lunch wouldn’t make a difference. But he gave it anyway. His small action sparked a mind-boggling miracle. Everyone ate their fill, with food left over. Thousands of years later, his action still assures us of God’s supernatural provision.

What we do matters greatly. The plan of God is always his presence working through his people. Just as the boy’s lunch must have seemed small to him, our actions may seem small to us. But just as God worked through that boy, he will work through us and use our seemingly-small actions to make big changes.

What does God’s presence working through us look like? Here are some small actions that cause big-time changes in the world:

  • Be kind to people, even to those who disagree with us. There’s no reason to be ugly to anyone.
  • Be patient. Listen—not in order to respond, but to heal.
  • Show compassion. Reach out to someone who is hurting.
  • Forgive quickly. Because we have been forgiven of much, we should generously forgive.
  • Be willing to share Godly wisdom with others, when the time is right.
  • Smile! The joy of the Lord should show on our faces.

These six actions reflect God’s character. He is kind, patient, compassionate, and forgiving. God gives us wisdom. And he smiles on us with a joyful twinkle in his eye. We are to daily become more and more like God, and these six actions are a pretty good start.

In the book, “The Shack,” by William Paul Young, the character of the Holy Spirit says, “If anything matters, then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes. Every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes. With every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished, and nothing will be the same again.”

Everything we do matters. “Nothing I do makes a difference” is a lie designed to keep us from the destiny God designed for us. Before we were born, God planned our destiny and the good works he wanted us to do during our lives (Ephesians 2:10). Don’t fall for the lie. Take every opportunity possible to do good. That’s how we change the world.

Father God, open my eyes to the difference I can make in the world. I know my actions make a difference. What I do changes the world for better or for worse. Fill my heart with kindness, patience, compassion, forgiveness, Godly wisdom, and joy. Let my life impact the world in the best possible way. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Handling Life's Problems

Let’s Talk About Mental Health

“For we are the product of his hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the anointed Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)

According to 2017 research by the National Institute of Mental Health, 18.9% of adults in the U.S. have a mental illness. For those of us doing the math, that’s about two out of every ten people. It could be us, someone in our family, our co-worker, or someone we serve with at church. As Christians, how do we deal with mental illness?

Those who haven’t struggled with mental illness can find it hard to understand the depth of pain experienced by those who do. Charles Spurgeon, a great evangelist who suffered from depression, said, “The mind can descend far lower than the body, for in it there are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in ten thousand ways, and die over and over again each hour.” The pain is real. The struggle can be daunting.

Let’s look at this issue from two sides. First, if you have a mental illness, God’s word points the way to hope:

  • Ephesians 2:10 says God created you with his own hand. Heaven’s poetry is written on your life. No mental health issue can ever change that. God created you deliberately, loves you unfailingly, values who you are, and has a plan for your life. “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I chose you for a special work…” (Isaiah 1:5). You are God’s beloved, the apple of his eye.
  • God is a “wonderful counselor” (Isaiah 9:6) You can talk to God about your mental illness. Many of the Psalms deal with depression, anger, or fear, and can be used as prayers. Remember, no one knows what you are going through better than the one who created you. Feel free to pour out your heart, your emotions, and your pain to God—he understands.
  • Don’t hesitate to get professional help and medication. When a person has a physical illness, they feel no shame about seeing a doctor and taking medicine. If you have a mental illness, you should feel no shame about seeing a professional and taking needed medicine. Jesus himself said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do…” (Mark 2:17).

Second, how should Christians react to people who have a mental illness? Matthew 7:12 says, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” What if it were you? What if it was your son or your daughter? How would you want them to be treated? We treat others as we want to be treated—with kindness, empathy, and grace.

Dear God, I come to you as your beloved child. Thank you for surrounding me in your love and mercy. Help me to remember your faithfulness and to trust in your plan. You have promised that your grace is sufficient, both for my current circumstances and for every day of my future. Bring strength out of my weakness. In Jesus’s name, amen.