A farmer had some puppies for sale. He painted a sign advertising them and nailed it on a post at the edge of his yard. As he was driving in the last nail, he felt a tug on his overalls. He turned around to see a little boy standing up against the fence. “Mister,” said the boy, “I want to buy one of your puppies.”
The farmer was a little embarrassed at the request because he strongly doubted that the boy had the kind of money he was asking for the pups. Trying to dissuade the little fellow, he said, “Son, these puppies come from fine parents and cost a fair amount of money.” The boy, however, didn’t give up so easily. He reached deep into his pocket, pulled out a handful of change, and said, “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to at least take a look?” The farmer couldn’t help but smile and answer, “Sure.”
He let out a whistle and called, “Here, Dolly!” Out from the doghouse and down the ramp came Dolly, followed by four little balls of fur, as the boy’s eyes danced with delight. But as Dolly and her pups made their way to the farmer, the boy saw another little ball appear at the door of the doghouse. It was noticeably smaller than the others, but it slid down the ramp with every bit as much enthusiasm. Then it began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up.
Immediately, the boy pointed at the runt and said, “I want that one.” Now the farmer just felt embarrassed. In his most compassionate tone, he answered, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. He’ll never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.” Upon hearing that, the little boy stepped back from the fence and began rolling up one leg of his pants. That allowed the farmer to see that a steel brace ran down both sides of the leg and attached itself to a specially made shoe. Looking up at the farmer, the boy said, “You see, sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he’ll need someone who understands.”
We all wonder why God either allows or (let’s admit it) causes certain things to happen to people. “Why?” is surely one of the most common words spoken to Him. Well, I don’t pretend to have all the answers that people want, but I do know this: At least one of the reasons why God either allows or causes unpleasant things to happen to people is because such things enable us to truly understand others who going through them too.
Tonya and I have two wonderful boys, but the fact is that we lost two other children, including our first, by way of miscarriage. During those incredibly difficult times I will never forget how various couples went out of their way to minister to us by sharing their stories of how they too had experienced miscarriages. Frankly, I was surprised at how many there were. These people had never spoken of such things to us, but once Tonya and I had to walk down that road, they instinctively knew that we needed “someone who understands.”
And now that Tonya and I have lived through the pain of those two miscarriages, we have the understanding to minister to couples who must endure one. Do you see how the divine chain of ministry perpetuates itself? Certainly no one wants to volunteer to go through something unpleasant, but at least we know that God can bring something good out of the experience.
So, Christian, keep all this in mind today and don’t be shy about ministering to those who are having to travel difficult ground that you’ve already traveled. Know that there is a person out there somewhere who is looking for someone who understands, and the person they are looking for is you. You just have to be willing to care and willing to share. And I’m happy to report that what you’ll find is that even as you minister to others, God will minister to you through the caring and the sharing.