Where do our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet?
This is one of those core ideas that really shape our engagement with the world. And it’s been a question I have struggled with for many years. Deep in my heart I knew that much of my work was not my heart’s desire. What was? That’s the question I am exploring and need to answer. It’s a question I’ve been struggling to answer on my own, so when God asked I fumbled and stumbled and couldn’t come up with an answer. I was being honest before the Lord.
I’m learning that deep gladness arises from those places where I once knew my deepest sorrow and repentance. It is a place touched and transformed by God’s compassion. As one author expresses it: “My own brokenness, driving me to Christ, is exactly where I can touch the broken hearted. We can be brokers of healing exactly where we have known the most brokenness” – The Broken Way Ann Voskamp p221
This junction between my deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger isn’t confined to one place. I may find it located within my family circle, down the street, on the other side of my city, and across the world. This place is likely outside of my comfort zone, yet God would not beckon me a place where He is not already present. He’s calling, and that’s all I need to take the first step. The kind of work God usually calls us to do is work that we need most to do and that the world needs most to have done.
I start with my “deepest gladness.”
My deepest gladness is simply being with God. Everything I want is just Him, to get lost in Him, to feel His love. It is a never ending passionate adventure to know God. When the fervour of God captures me, it ignites within a great passion to walk with God and to be his friend. To find that dimension of relationship certainly required an intense spiritual pursuit. When God has a friend, divine activity accelerates.
My deepest gladness is also when others are moving forward. This is the way it should be – how the kingdom of God should function. As Christians, we are called to thrive – in order to influence and motivate others to thrive. We all need to engage in relating to one another in order to move forward in God’s kingdom.
This is when I am the most effective because when the needs of others are met, I in turn, reach my full potential and as a result perform to my best. My desire is that each person to not be anything less than what God has called him or her to be. I trust God with my gift(s) to discern the potential of others and can visualise their spiritual achievement. I love to counsel or encourage others toward a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ. I feel a deep responsibility before God to challenge those that may be taking a path that does not honour the Lord, to correct their misguided choices. I focus on personal and practical application of the message or truth that is being communicated.
The fact that we are passionate about something is often a sign that this is where God is calling us to be.
The World’s Deep Hunger
The world’s deep hunger is composed of areas of our life where we have a heart for ministry (which is helped by knowing our passions), places that have been entrusted to us (which is helped by knowing our skills, abilities and interests), awareness of the unreached of the world, and places where we give generously (time, talent, and treasure). We need to look inside ourselves to see it.
Our effectiveness for God’s kingdom is determined largely by our character and our maturity in Christ. It is about trusting God to know the time to unleash us and our opportunities on the world.
Helping my understanding of the world’s deep hunger is Jeremiah’s word to the exiles in Babylon: ‘And seek (inquire for, require, and request) the peace and welfare of the city to which I have caused you to be carried away captive; and pray to the Lord for it, for in the welfare of [the city in which you live] you will have welfare’ Jeremiah 29:7 AMPC
We already know that the world is a hurting place, and people need encouragement, and hope.
For me the connection point between my deepest gladness and the world’s deepest hunger is: changing lives, transforming communities, and bringing good news to the poor through the power of the gospel.
In seeking the welfare of the city, my call is to seek the shalom of the city.
We usually think of shalom as an expression for peace. Shalom means Peace … and so much More. Shalom is the Hebrew word for holistic peace — peace that permeates every aspect of our lives and our being. It is a word used throughout scripture to describe the absolute joy, flourishing, fulfilment, and bliss found in the presence of God. It also conveys the beautiful, interdependent relationships that God’s people eternally share with Him, each other, and all of creation. As someone wrote, “To have shalom is to be whole and healthy in yourself and in all that challenges you, be it people, be it the issues of your world, your environment, your society, or be it the problems which are at hand, the problems which await you.”
My hope, therefore, is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross providing healing of the world’s broken people in answer to believing prayer. The number one way I seek the peace and prosperity of city God has placed me in for this season is to share the gospel!
Yes, the number one way! SALVATION! Why is this? Because there’s salvation for the world. There is room in Jesus’ side. Only when our cities turn to Jesus and repent of their sin, changing their evil and becoming obedient to His commands, will our cities really prosper:
- Restoring people to a full expression as made in the image of God;
- Promoting trust and reconciliation of relationships with others
- Forming communities that have a shared vision, a sense of community;
- Creating new and restoring existing systems and structures; and
- Seeking God in all that we are and do, so that God’s kingdom and glory may become more present on earth as it is in heaven. Heaven Open Earth Invaded
I have discovered that God has given everyone the ability to recognise something of what the world needs. He seems to expect us to notice it and get to work, rather than waiting for a special call from him. There is no biblical formula for translating the needs of the world into a precise job calling. That’s why we need to seek God’s guidance in the various forms of discernment available to us. The application is simply the opportunity to live it out at this moment in our life.
For me my deepest gladness and the world’s deep hunger collide when I:
- Sow the seeds of the gospel [in the soil of people’s lives]
- Edify Believers
- Exalt the Lord our God
- Deploy Resources to Advance the Kingdom of God.
If our calling is truly found at the intersection of our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger, then I would suggest we spend most of our time searching for what gives us deep gladness because there are simply too many hungers to sort through. Our deep gladness is much more rare than one of the world’s needs. Needs are over-abundant, but what gives us gladness isn’t
It is one of my great joys and privileges to experience the convergence between my deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger. God uses broken and imperfect people to challenge and inspire others. He utilises our mistakes and our victories to shine a light on the path, so that others might follow
When God puts us in a place where our deep gladness collides with the world’s deep hunger, we are truly at a place where we are able to create a pocket of greatness.