Misery for Ministry


I heard a someone say once, to “make misery your ministry”. I finally understood that today.

There is a great guy at our church. His name is Chuck. Last year, Chuck’s teenage son was killed in a car accident. To make things worse, two others in the car with him were killed as well. The accident was his son’s fault, so you can imagine the intensity of the situation.

I remember the amazing things that took place in the community around the 3 teenage deaths. There was obvious talk and speculation as to the reason this happened, but the reality was that none of that mattered. There were now 3 families missing three loved ones.

Chuck is a tough guy. Athlete, coach, strong willed and determined. It was humbling to watch how he and his family walked through this. You would expect someone like Chuck to maybe close down or get hard. Not so, Chuck knew from the beginning that his son’s life deserved celebration. He was not going to make this event about him and he was going to allow God to minister to he and his family as God saw fit.

Fast forward to now. Chuck sat in front of our Pastoral staff today to talk about an opportunity he has to join forces with a local organization that offers bereavement counseling. He told us story after story about how God has taken advantage of Chuck’s willingness to be used to care for others. Chuck told us he is scared to death, he is not qualified, he is not ready. And yet at the same time, he told us he so desperately wants to care.

I think we are all faced in life with burdens. Things that affect our lives that we can’t let go of. Many of us care and love and offer up concern in times of need.  But we need to look deeper. What has God allowed us to experience and learn from that we now can in turn offer attentive care to someone? What have we dealt with in the past, that is very fresh in our minds? So fresh, that when we look at others going through a similar situation, our hearts melt. We understand what they feel.

What misery have you faced? More importantly, are you allowing God to use it for His benefit?


32 Responses to “Misery for Ministry”

  1. This has “The Wounded Healer” written all over it. Henri Nouwen is the author. $10 at amazon:


  2. Looks like a good book. I just ordered it.

  3. Great post. I can’t imagine this type of pain.I pray that I never will know it.

    We have a similar story in our church. A young girl died on the way back from a birthday party about 5 years ago. The parents created a non-profit group, that they run, in their daughter’s name, to assist parents who have lost their children. Over the years they have helped hundreds of hurting people.

    Nouwen is great. Another good, but very, small book of his is “Can You Drink This Cup”. The best, though, is “Adam”. Nouwen gave up his prestigious position at an Ivy League college, late in his already famous career, to take a resident position with L’Arche Daybreak Communities. He assumed that he was to be a spiritual leader for the community. He was surprised and afraid when, upon arrival, he was told that he was to become the daily caretaker for Adam, a severely retarded and paraplegic young man. Everyday Nouwen would dress him, bathe him, feed him, talk to him, sit with him. How he came to realize that, rather than this being a case of Nouwen making sacrifices for Adam, that Jesus was ministering to Nouwen through this profoundly weak young man. Christ showed how suffering is such an essential part of a vital faith. So many people seem to think the opposite. I hope I can remember this when I am faced with tragedy.

  4. Awesome story about Nouwen and excites me even more to read his book.

    The “Osteen” religion is one that will most definitely end up hurting people more than helping. Life hurts, but God is truly in the midst of all of it. When we are hurting, we can either look inward, protect and shelter ourselves. Or we can look outward and see the journey God is allowing us to travel.

  5. Wonderful post! So much pain, but so much purpose too. You know my story, and yes I see Gods hand in it, using it to help others while showing me how to peel the layers off at the same time. When Jer and I are in painful situations, we ask Him to help us see how to glorify Him in the midst of it, as well as minister to others afterward. Sometimes it feels like we’re in a fog….but never for long. He is so faithful, there is always a reason.

  6. What a powerful story. Years ago, my wife and I were told we would not have children on our own. The news devastated us. We got angry, we mourned, we pouted, and we were sad. After months of processing the news, we decided to embrace this part of our story and asked God to use it for his glory. We’ve been blown away at how he has used this part of our story since then. He has connected us with so many people we could relate with because of this part of our story. I am so thankful.

    More here: http://caseyross.typepad.com/caseyross/2008/03/similar-stories.html

  7. Deborah, you’re right. His ways see and know things we will never see and know. We have to keep our eyes up and focused on him and he is faithful!

    Casey, welcome to the blog man. Love reading about your ministry out in South Carolina!

    Gang, go check out Casey’s blog when you get a chance and learn about his story.

  8. I completely plan on reading this, but I just had to check and see if you were watching AI and if you just saw that awful representation of Oregon?!?!?!?! 😯

  9. I did. That was alright. It’s country…it always sucks 🙂

    I had IM on but never saw you.

  10. WHA?! Which IM? I went to my gmail and didn’t see you there….plus I have moved the computer into our room on my side of the bed and I wasn’t in here watching it. I did come back to leave you that comment though! haha! 😆

    Okay dude, those are fighting words….country does NOT suck! 😉

  11. When I was baptized in 1999, I told my family that “everyone” would be invited just as everyone is invited to the table. So yes “he” (our long lost father) would be there. My older brother, older sister, younger brother and mother did not come to my baptism. A year later my mom did make it to our daughter’s graduation knowing that “he” would be there. Not my siblings however. This year, 8 years later, my older brother has reconnected with our father. So my baptism was bitter sweet. Having my dad there weeping brought joy. The empty seats broke my heart. While nothing like the pain Chuck has experienced, God uses all people who will yield. It is amazing to witness what He does with the most unqualified “Davids” among us.

  12. Sorry Bran…I am not a country fan 🙂

    I was on for a bit and didn’t see you. we’ll have to pop on for the future events once you guys are in S.D.

  13. For me, it’s disappointment with the church. Betrayal, lying or some sort of abuse or being taken advantage by church leadership. I have brothers who are still suffering with the scars and I don’t know how to help even though I’ve gone through it. It’s something that’s important to me and all I know how to do is listen and be there.

  14. Hey Portorikan, It’s hard to tell people to count on the church when the church is what hurt them. Listening is the best place to start. We can’t understand till we listen.

    Thanks for the comment!

  15. I never actually mentioned my misery. I blogged about it, though. It’s becoming an interesting thread based on who found me (it)…


  16. 16 Cheryl

    Great post… I’ve seen Chuck… I realized who he was after the first anniversary of the accident when I saw his picture in the paper…and then I literally ran into him on that first Father’s Day. He was very close to losing it and we ran into each other. The pain I saw in his eyes I will never forget. God will use him greatly.

    As for myself, there have been so many bereavements in my life that I find it interesting to be working where I work. THe Lord definitely hand picked my job at the Cheney Family Place. BTW, if you know of anyone interested in a job there email me. We are going to have a position open up, which is a rare thing.

  17. God places us where we are going to be best for Him…if we allow Him.

    What kind of position is opening up? I could let the guys know.

  18. Read it. Liked it. Deb said something to me about our current situation (as you know), about how God is allowing this to be used for ministry later on in our lives. I really hope so. 😉

    I found your comment about the “Osteen” religion interesting. Jake and I watch shows on that and often wonder what other people’s take on it is.

  19. Please take my “Osteen” comment with the understanding that I know nothing about the guy except what he broadcasts. There is not much meet there and there is a ton of…just fell good kind of teaching. Life can be really tough and it is not ok to preach that happiness is an answer or that God will even give us happiness. God gives us joy. There is a big difference. What we need is His joy, not out happiness.

    Bran, I agree with Deb that everything we go through can be a ministry. Remember this. It can be one for you, for him and together. Just make sure you stay committed to who you need to be and God will always use you to minister to others through this.

    Love ya!

  20. 20 Cheryl

    It is an on-call resident aide position…the starting salary isn’t high but a job description will be posted on the Asante site. I’ll let you know when it goes up then you can pass on the link.

  21. Cool!

  22. Thanks inWorship. I do try balance how I listen and how to encourage, but as my wife will attest, sometimes my my brain leads my mouth to take over. I am working on it though.

  23. Portorikan, I like to try and fix things. So I am with you. I am working on it as well.

  24. Ric, guess where I found you 🙂

    I got your comment up now.

  25. Ric, i have been waiting till I had a some free time to read your “Father” posts. I am home sick, so it is on my to do list for tomorrow.

    Looking forward to reading your story.

  26. That’s @ home while sick i assume?? Not longing to go home – right?

    Get well soonest bro!

    Sure Tam will be doing her best to make you well (and get you out of the house! 😉 )

    Sympathies to Tam as well 😉


  27. At home…sick 🙂

    Yup, headed to bed. Thanks Love!

  28. 28 TheNorEaster

    Reading this post was like listening to someone who got hit with a raindrop in a hurricane.

  29. Noreaster, Hey, thanks for the comment.

    I have never heard that analogy before. I am not sure what it means, but I’d love to. Let me know.

  30. 30 TheNorEaster

    My comment was just a reference to your “fast-forwarding” from Chuck losing his son in that accident to his role in bereavement counseling, which is like telling me that someone who is caught in a hurricane but only discussing one raindrop. That is, I’m sure he had one hell of journey from getting the news to taking that role.

    I know you asked at the end of the blog about the misery your readers have faced and how we are using that for God’s benefit. Much as I’d love to tell you–you seem like an extraordinairy man with a great sense of humor–there is just too much to tell. WAY too much to tell. So just…Hey, when you get a moment, go to my site and see for yourself.

  31. 31 TheNorEaster

    …about** someone who is caught..

  32. Thanks for the clarification Noreaster. I would agree with you 100% that there is so much more than I have been able to share. And I am sure for Chuck there we will be much more to come.

    I am sorry to hear there has been such a storm raging for you. I will definitely come by and read your story.

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