Ps 32:7-9 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble, and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Every day we are are waking up to the catastrophic images of flooded neighborhoods, devastated homes, and hurting families in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. For those with the time and the resources, they are tirelessly wading into the waters helping with the recovery effort. We see on TV many are going full on with little sleep and poor eating habits. Meanwhile we are stuffing the shock and the depressing images we constantly see into a corner of our mind, then closing the door on them telling ourselves "I can’t wrap mind mind around this right now, maybe later”
This is a classic set up for Spiritual Post Traumatic Stress - or Compassion Fatigue.
When Hurricane Katrina came and went years ago, many first responders and relief workers suffered from Compassion Fatigue. If we are not careful as the Church and Ambassadors for Christ jumping into to mix to help - we too can fall prey to this paralyzing state.
Compassion Fatigue also known as “secondary traumatic stress” - it’s the 1st stage of burnout. It is the gradual lessening of compassion on those that suffer around us. This is a condition that results in the neglecting of our own soul and it’s edification. The symptoms of it can lead to frustration and anger at those that are suffering and in some cases aggression to them or those we co-labor with, hurting the very people we love and want to help.
The last two Sundays we have been dealing with ministry - the overflow of a cup that runs over. We need to first take care or our own soul, build that up with the love and Word of Grace so that what we serve with and give to people is not our own compassion and service but Christ’s overflowing grace and compassionate love.
When we minister to people we must remember that their most important need is spiritual before it is physical. We must be careful we are not promising people with false hope that God will bless them or give them double as Job experienced. That may or may not happen in His Sovereign Plan. But our ministry that gives the greatest hope is the comfort, and presence; the comfort of the Spirit and the Presence of God.
Isaiah 43.2,3 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
Be sure to daily edify your soul with the personal intimacy of God’s care and re-affirm who you are in Christ as a new forgiven creation. Then when we disappoint ourselves and fail in our attitudes in service and ministry - it’s Christ’s unconditional love we abide in and not our own.
Encourage yourself in prayer and for each other. Remember to laugh, joke at times, shake off the stress knowing that in all our afflictions He was afflicted.
Is 63.9 - In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
Being mindful of these things we can all keep Christ's heart and mind as we minister, administer, coordinate and give during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, keeping ourselves in a healthy state spiritual and mentally.