What’s Mine to Do?

What’s Mine to Do?

December 30, 2013

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

As I stood on a barren hillside in an ancient land, I felt small. My husband Rich and I were staying overnight in a small village in the West Bank – an area occupied by the Israeli government but populated by Palestinian communities. We were there to see how World Vision was helping to fight poverty and bring peace to this hurting and isolated community.

That hillside had once been covered with olive groves, but Israeli forces replaced them with a security wall. Proponents claim the wall was necessary for protection, but it cut through the middle of communities, separating neighbors from their jobs, schools and each other. The ancient olive groves were just another casualty of generations of conflict.

The community had purchased replacement trees, but they stood in plastic buckets rather than in the ground, presumably so they could be moved if construction vehicles came back.

Earlier that day, I had hiked among the buckets with Rawah, a high school senior who was leaving soon to attend university. As we walked, she shared her dreams for the future, exuding the optimism every young student should have.

Other community members were skeptical. “What’s the use?” one villager asked me. “Our children have no future. They go to university and then return home prepared to do jobs that don’t exist. They become tour guides instead of world leaders.”

Here, it seemed, children’s futures were no safer than the olive trees.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine is complicated. Its roots go back millennia. Since modern Israel’s birth, the relationship has often been violent. Unsurprisingly, the vulnerable have suffered the most.

And here I was, in the middle of it, meeting people whose lives were threatened by an ancient struggle that was bigger and more complicated than any of us.

When confronted with a situation that’s too big for me to handle, or when frustrated by the sheer injustice of something happening right in front of me, I used to tell myself, “This is not mine to fix.”

Sometimes that helped me remember I’m not always responsible for making everything right. However, sometimes it was an excuse to do nothing.

Do you ever feel that way? Are the problems confronting the world, your community or even your family just too big to get your mind and arms around?

Turn to God’s Word and the reminder that Paul gives us in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (NIV) God has given us the strength we need, to do whatever He has called us to do.

With God’s wisdom and strength, I’m learning to ask: “What is mine to do?”

For me, the answer was to help give a face to the conflict. I know I can’t bring peace to the Middle East, but I can help people better understand that the lives of real men and women, boys and girls – on both sides of the conflict – are at stake. That, I can do.

Don’t give into the temptation to do nothing because you can’t do everything. God doesn’t call us to fix every problem, but He does call us to do something. Find out what that is and then, in His strength, do it with all your heart.

Dear Heavenly Father, our world is so broken. But You’ve empowered each of us to do something to help heal it in Your Name. We can’t do everything but You’ve entrusted us with something. Help us to identify our assignment and to seek Your strength to carry it out. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
He Walks Among Us by Richard and Renee Stearns

God’s Love for You by Richard and Renee Stearns

Reflect and Respond:
What are some problems you believe God is calling you to do something about?

What can you do to address these problems? What must you entrust to God or others?

Power Verses:
Matthew 9:36-38, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” (NIV)

Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)

© 2013 by Renee Stearns. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Thomas Nelson Publishers for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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Comments

  1. I believe God’s calling me to educate people about what it’s like to have a disability. Unfortunately, some people don’t really see just how much the same we are as the non-disabled population in this country. Naturally, I use my disability as a way of inspiring others to do whatever they set their minds to at any point in their lives. I love it that my husband and I can be an inspiration to those around us at all times- no matter what we’re doing.
    I’m a big inspiration to my church friends. I an always be seen worshipping God whenever I’m at churh. I <3 to show that I don't let my disability get in the way of loving God with everything that's within me always. I <3 to be used by God to show people that you shouldn't be afraid to do something just beause you may have a physical hallenge.
    Matthew 9:36-38, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” (NIV)
    We must ask God to send us someone who an help us if we're feeling helpless. I <3 it that God sends us someone to help us in our times of need. Then again, God will send us to help someone else else in their time of need. I <3 being of help to my husband, and he enjoys helping me whenever and however possible- even though he's completely blind.
    Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)
    If we give all our ares to God, he will take our heavy burdens away. Many people will not want to try to handle their own situations; however, God wants us to allow rely on Him for guiding us in the right direction for our lives. I know that I can have a lot of strength and power if I just allow myself to put God first in my life at all times- no matter if If I'm thinking I can solve my own problems.

    In my lifetime, I've been through many struggles- academic issues were the biggest. I prayed to God to show me what I should do. The eduational system's not to helpful to those of us with disabilities, and God showed me that I should just focus on eduating others about my disability- rather than attempting to get through college and get a degree- then get a job.
    God an give me the strength to stand up for what I may strongly believe in- especially when it comes to disability rights. I may often have to rely on others to support my efforts of trying to share my knowledge of disability rights with those I may ome in ontact with throughout my daily activities at any point of my life. I <3 to share what God wants me to let others know about why he has made us the way we are.
    “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
    I <3 what this verse is telling us. We an do whatever we'd like, as long as we allow God to give us the courage and strength to get the job done. WWithout God in our life, trying to do things on our own would probably end up resulting in disaster. Our flesh would want to do things the way we want; however, God's got His own agenda for how He wants us to do things. God has His own plans for our lives.
    God showed me that I shouldn't give up in my efforts to eduate people about disabilities and disability rights. For a few years I attended a Youth With Disabilities Leadership Summit, where we learned how to advocate for making changes to whatever issues that we may have been facing-whether at home, school, or even at work. I <3 it how we even nearly made a hange to a college campus- suggesting that the doorways in the dorm should be made wider for students in wheelchairs.
    "Dear Heavenly Father, our world is so broken. But You’ve empowered each of us to do something to help heal it in Your Name. We can’t do everything but You’ve entrusted us with something. Help us to identify our assignment and to seek Your strength to carry it out. In Jesus’ Name, Amen"-Lysa TerKeurst Ultimately, this prayer has us telling the Lord that our world's broken, and we're asking Him to guide us in trying to make it a better place for everyone.
    .

  2. I used to really enjoy Proverbs 31, until this article which had a subtle politial agenda.I don’t see mentioned here the the Arab-Israeli struggle goes back to Ishmael and Issac, although God had promises for Ishmael the land was promised to Israel.The only hope for peace will be a knowledge of Jesus. As followers of Jesus, that is indeed what we are called to do. ..that is our assignment…share the Gospel. It’s not a social agenda.

    • I don’t think she intended to make a political commentary but to emphasize the individuals caught up in this situation. By seeing the human beings and their individual stories helps to put a face on it. In my mind, it motivates me to want to pray for these individuals–it makes it easier when you have a “face” rather than praying for a group of people you don’t know anything about.

    • Hi Laurel, I too don’t see this as a taking a political stand. Considering her grasp on scripture I am sure the writer knows where the conflict began and that simply wasn’t the point of the devotion. She saw real people caught in the middle of a centuries old conflict. The recent conflict is largely due to the UN giving Israel land after WW11 and the reaction of the Arabs(Palestinians), the two actually enjoyed thousands of years of peaceful relations. Of course we know this land, and more, is rightly Israel’s as it was given to them by God and the bitter conflict dates back to Ishmael’s being told he’d live in hostility towards his brothers. I just don’t think it’s where she wanted to go. We are told to pray for the peace of Jerusalem as well as to love everyone and to reach out to the hurting and lost. I think the writer did a great job not being political while focusing on the troubled lives of the people living in the area. I actually enjoy speakers/teachers that share history, current events or personal stories in their ministry. It gives me a greater understanding of the lesson. Just my thoughts and thanks Renee, I scrolled down to post a comment on how I enjoyed the info you gave about the olive trees and the wall. I found that informative and it gives a view into the struggle these people deal with. I was struck by the truth that “not everything is mine” to fix but “sometimes there is something I can do.” I need to remind myself of both of these things. Thanks again.

    • Agree with you Laurel.

      • I think it is naive to say that the post was not political. The portrayal of the Israelis as malignant – having destroyed olive gardens and put up a wall, as the people who may come back and destroy any newly planted olive trees, and the portrayal of the Palestinian community as all innocence and suffering victims is misinformed at best, and dangerous at worst. I am especially upset that World vision should be promoting this view as I have been an active supporter of World Vision for years.

  3. I can relate to this devotional so well…my problems may not be as big as the issues in Israel, I feel like they are too big for me to make an impact. This reading serves as the catapult I need to get me through the rest of my school year. I serve as a lowly teacher in a very much so dysfunction high school. We’ve already had teachers to leave before the end of the school year, I (along with other teachers) have had my property stolen, and the students are not concerned about learning. Not to mention their behavior is awful and so disrespectful. At times I feel that the issues are too big for me and I get sucked into the mentality that it’s too much for me to make a difference so why do anything at all. Yet I have to remember that I serve a God who gives me strength to do all things. If I just reach one child then I have done my part to help make my school a better place…I have done what God has called me to do!

    • You ARE making a difference, Hadassah! You might not even realize you have reached some until you see them many years later and they tell you. It is a tough job, but hang in there. You have been placed there to shine a light in the darkness. I have been there, I know what you are going through. May God use you to speak life into those kids.
      Debby

  4. “Don’t give into the temptation to do nothing because you can’t do everything.” Yes. This.

  5. Renee,
    Thank you for sharing your heart.
    I loved this:
    “Don’t give into the temptation to do nothing because you can’t do everything. God doesn’t call us to fix every problem, but He does call us to do something. Find out what that is and then, in His strength, do it with all your heart.”
    I think there are times where I feel overwhelmed and don’t know what to do.
    I have a heart for the less fortunate and homeless. Each year I am involved in that in some way, but I would like to dig deeper. I think this is going to be a year of really reaching out to God for some direction.

  6. I agree with Laurel, my support is for Israel because it is the “apple of God’s eye” – He has given them this land as their own, to allow it to be taken is doing contrary to God’s will. As far as sharing the Gospel – this is something all of us can do, every day, everywhere. I do pray for those who do not know Jesus, that they will have a saving knowledge of Him, receive life from the Giver of Life.

  7. Thank you for this devotion. I’ve been struggling with issues at my church, and this devotion has given me much to ponder.

  8. I agree with Laurel. This painted a picture of the mean Goliath Israel fighting the weak David Palestine. Simply not true. The security wall had to be built due to suicide bombers often masked as pregnant women. Who planted the ancient groves you speak of? The Jews. There is do much to write about the Palestinian agenda that so many Christians have been spoon fed and believe. Now it’s a shame they it’s being spread through this ministry. The conflict isn’t as complicated as the author speaks of. It’s quite simple. The anti Christ spirit will do anything to destroy Israel, the land, the bible says, where God has placed His name.

  9. I really needed this devotional today. It really spoke to me about some things I’ve been struggling with lately — feeling overwhelmed, defeated. Thank you.

  10. Just to put this in context, the village I visited in Palestine is actually Christian, made up of men and women, boys and girls who love and worship Jesus as Lord and Savior. Although it is dwindling in size, the Christian Church is still alive in the Holy Land in spite of the violence and poverty that persist there.

  11. Thought I’d respond one last time. I agree with much of what people said in regards to the conflict in Israel. I agree people have been told incorrect info about the middle east struggle. As I stated above the land and more is Israel’s. God gave it to them. The enemy is for sure behind the desire to destroy the right of Jews to inhabit the land, Anyone interested in the subject can find some great resources written by Godly experts. When one writes it can be easy to assume intent or lack of knowledge because the person isn’t heard or chooses to leave out parts. Having said that yes! we should support Israel. Salvation comes from the Jews, our bible is a Jewish book, God dearly loves the Jewish people…Israel is surrounded by enemies and Christians must support these people and their right to live where God intended them to. I’ll say again that I enjoy speakers/teachers who incorporate facts or history that make a lesson more alive . While I, and I suspect others. already know the wall was built to protect the people, telling about the wall dividing people and so on makes the struggle of the local people more real, it paints a picture. I want to always be reminded of hardships around the world even if it is in the holy land… That doesn’t change my support for Israel or my knowledge that God still has a plan for her. He will fulfill his promises. I really did enjoy the devotion and the point that there are times that it’s not mine to fix but also I can do something. So the writer couldn’t “fix” this age old conflict but she could pray with and for the people, and help in ways she didn’t even mention in her writing. If you check her links you’ll see she and her husband have a heart for the hurting around the world and for spreading the gospel. I think because she didn’t mention that the area was Christian everyone assumed she was defending the Palestinians and criticizing the need for the wall that separates people. Okay I’ve written enough. Thank you Proverbs 31 for the daily devos. Everyone have a blessed new year.

  12. Thanks Renee for your wise and encouraging words. Love your thoughts and your heart! This was just what I needed for today.

  13. Stephanie says:

    I am not even sure how I came across this but I have to say I was immediately inspired and felt compassion and called to say thank you for sharing your heart. I appreciate that all have different views. It’s always amazing to me how very different they can be. I think it’s important to recognize where our hearts are and what our background and perspectives are to help us to work to continue to understand each other. I don’t agree with much that has been shared but it gives me an opportunity to work to love as Jesus does and not carry the burden of the disagreement. Thank you Proverbs 31 ministries for allowing us to openly seek wisdom and share honestly. I pray for peace to join us all together and not allow Satan to separate us through misunderstandings. May we continue to seek discernment and be open in His love.

  14. Thank you for these thoughtful and encouraging words! You are so right that we should never find excuses for inaction–everyone is equipped to minister, in some small way, to a hurting world.

  15. I was troubled by this Encouragement, as I thought it put Israel in a bad light as occupiers. Peace would come to all of the mid east if the muslims would quit attacking, hating, and calling for jihad against nonbelievers. That is the simple truth! I have not heard of one Jewish terrorist! I lived in the mid east for 5 yrs. and was immersed in the muslim culture, no love for mankind in their way of life, unless u converted. I did not appreciate the tone of this Encouragement as it seemed to forget God’s commitment to Israel!

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