Last weekend, we continued our series on Ordinary people whom God used in extraordinary ways. In keeping with the genre of Hebrew narrative, I spent some time studying Joseph’s life. He’s the second youngest son of the Ordinary Conman we looked at last week. Joseph’s life was a series of “pit moments”. In fact, when he asks the cupbearer in Gen 40 to remember him before Pharoah, he describes his own predicament in prison as a “pit” (Gen 40:15). It’s the second time in his life that Joseph has found himself in a pit – forgotten, betrayed, and seemingly abandoned.
The response to the sermon has been incredible. I’ve never received so many emails, posts, shares, even handwritten notes commenting on how God used Joseph’s life in the pits to encourage and refresh the hearts of so many people. My encouragement to the many “pit-dwellers” out there was to LOOK UP and LOOK AROUND. God is with you, and most likely there are plenty of others in need of your encouragement…even while you’re in the pit.
I cut out an entire section of the message on how to be a blessing in the pit: what to do/say and what NOT to do/say. I’ll summarize my thoughts:
- Don’t trivialize the darkness and pain of the pit. It’s one thing to be hopeful. It’s another to be ignorantly optimistic. The worst thing we can tell someone in the pit is to just “suck it up”.
- Don’t hit the panic button in the pit. It can make the darkness seem heavier. There’s already enough fear and confusion for a pit-dweller. We don’t need to intensify it.
- Don’t “look at your watch”. Pit-dwellers don’t want to be just another to-do item on your list. When we look to be a blessing, there’s no timetable for how to be one. Presence means so much more than pressure.
- Remember the “ministry of absence”. Sometimes when we want to encourage someone in the pit, we feel the internal pressure to be everything to that person, even the Savior himself. We’re not God. While we can point to him, we don’t have to BE him. You can’t stay with a pit-dweller forever, and when it is time to part (even temporarily), remember to leave in such a way that you and the pit-dweller know that you are intentionally leaving and entrusting him/her into God’s hands.
At the end of the day, as a pit-dweller, I am looking for empathy, not sympathy. What’s the difference you ask? Check out the video below. I hope it helps make you a blessing to someone.
What else would you add to my short list above? What are some helpful or unhelpful ways that people have treated you in the pit? Comment below.