A Soft Heart and a Tough Spirit
Missionaries, international aid workers, and humanitarian workers at home and abroad encounter some of the most tragic and heartbreaking situations on a regular basis. They are constantly surrounded by need, desperation and suffering, sometimes within their own culture and in a context they can relate to, and sometimes in a foreign culture and one that is difficult to understand. It is very important for anyone serving in these high stress capacities to learn how to cope with these situations.
Christian missionaries and aid workers are able to have a faith based perspective, which can help them to rise above the
sadness and desperation they encounter. Here are a few tips for dealing with these struggles from a faith base perspective:
- Remember that God is in control. This can be hard to do when you are faced with atrocities, gross injustices and the daily struggle many face just to keep themselves and their families alive. God allowed man free will, and the evils that exist in the world are the results of man’s wrong choices. But, it will not last forever. The meek shall inherit the Earth and delight themselves in the abundance of peace (Psa37:11).
- God wants you to feel compassion, and to be moved. When you feel moved by the suffering of others, you are feeling God’s love and God’s heart for them. It is not easy to feel this emotion, but you are allowing yourself to be a vessel of God’s love. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Mat9:36).
- Allowing yourself to become hardened or full of hatred or despair is allowing evil to win. If you have faith that God is in control, that God loves and cares, then you do not need to become hateful. When you begin to feel these emotions and feelings taking root in your heart, strengthen your faith. That being said, nearly every missionary will experience these feelings. Keep praying about them. King David understood this. He says: Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God (Psa42:11).
Give yourself time and space to work through these emotions and to mature in faith. The need is great, and God will give you the grace to keep a soft heart, and grow a tough spirit that can withstand.