Today’s devotional is written by Lori Steinkamp Lassen. She is our only daughter, who has been married to her husband, Scott for 26 years. Lori is the mother of four children, and has worked with the ministry for many years. May her devotional deepen your spiritual walk with the Lord. – Charlyne
The day after my dad died, my youngest daughter, Ashley, and I were scheduled to fly to Cincinnati so she could have surgery. As you can imagine, I didn’t sleep well that night. I kept reliving the events of the day and the moments following my dad’s death. Growing up with a father who was a funeral director, two brothers, and a husband who worked in the funeral business, you would think I would be used to death. It doesn’t make it any easier.
The next day, at the airport, I kept thinking about all the people I was passing. I felt I should have a big sign around my neck saying, “My dad just entered eternity.” The airport was particularly crowded that day. A snowstorm up the east coast had delayed many flights attempting to leave Ft. Lauderdale. I looked at each person and wondered what their sign might say. They all looked “normal,” but what hidden hurts, disappointments, and resentments were they hiding?
What sign do you wear? Do you wear your sign, or do you pretend that life is normal and you put a shield up as protection? Is your sign so big that nobody around you can ever show you their sign? Sometimes we can complain about our problems so often that we never get to minister to those around us.
In my dad’s final days, he wasn’t feeling well. Chest pain and stomach pain were a constant burden for him. In those days, he wanted to minister to others who had a sign of hurt around their neck. Some of you may have received a call of encouragement from him. Even though the sign my dad was wearing, “terminal illness,” seemed large, he wanted to be an encouragement to others.
We all have hurts and pains that we will experience in this lifetime. The Lord hasn’t promised us a pain-free life, but He has promised that He will be with us every step of the way. Sometimes we need to let others see our hurts, frustrations, and disappointments, so they can be blessed when we have a victory in these areas. Other times, we need to tuck our signs away and minister to someone else’s needs. We all have problems, but we can receive a blessing by ministering to others in their time of need.
When my dad was still in the hospital, shortly after the doctors told us he had cancer, my mom arrived in his room and shared that she had become friends with one of the valet attendants downstairs. He was having marriage problems, and he soon had a pile of books given to him from the back of Mom’s van.
The same story repeated itself when my dad passed out while at home. He was in the bathroom, and we couldn’t get in to help him, so the paramedics had to be called. Mike, a longtime friend who was a paramedic in the neighborhood, was working that day alongside his friend, Lyn. The next hour was spent getting Dad stabilized and hearing Lyn’s testimony of salvation. That day, Dad moved his sign of “terminal illness” to minister to Mike and Lyn even when he was trapped on a bathroom floor, too weak to stand alone. The day after my dad died, Mike, an unbeliever, sat in my parent’s living room listening to story after story of God’s grace in recent days.
When my parents were carrying their own burden, they moved their signs to minister God’s love to others.
I have faced struggles. Once, when dealing with a grieving spirit, I felt a tug-of-war going on in my spirit. My heart was broken. I would have rathered curled up at home instead of going out in the world, pretending that I didn’t have hurts. The Lord spoke to me, saying, by doing that, I was letting Satan win. Yes, I was hurting, but the Lord wanted to give me the strength to continue. I jumped back into life and got involved with a ministry at church. My hurts were still there, but they hurt less when I spent time pouring into someone else’s life.
You can do the same thing. This may be the most painful season of your life. Nobody stands at an altar committing to love another for better or worse, thinking about the day the bags are packed and divorce papers are signed. The Lord has promised that He will carry us through these trials.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:7-10
Do you know someone in your church who needs a friend? It may be as simple as a phone call or note to say, “I’m praying for you.” It may be more of a commitment to a ministry in your church. When you get out of the way of your problems, you are opening yourself up to bless someone else. I challenge you to tuck your sign away and find someone whom you can help carry their sign for a while.