Someone has said that if you preach to the hurting you will never lack an audience. How true that is! Yesterday morning our choir sang There is a Balm in Gilead. As I went to the pulpit to preach following their special I thought how thankful we are that there is healing available for each of us. Just prior to the choir's special we had a time of prayer, and many in our congregation shared prayer needs they had. There was a wide variety of needs expressed, and I thought that the balm the choir sang about could address every one of those needs.
While preparing a sermon I remind myself that there will be hurting people listening. I want to offer them hope. I can't take away their pain, but I can point them to the One who can. I cannot bring healing into their lives, but I can tell them that Jesus Christ is the Great Physician who can heal the worst of the issues that bring pain into our lives. I can also often demonstrate that the challenges they are facing are in reality symptomatic of the spiritual issues they are trying to resolve.
Congregations are full of people trying to make sense of life. About the time they think they have it resolved something new challenges their thinking. A person struggling with long-term unemployment may wonder what the future holds. A parent with a child that has drifted away from the way it was raised brings many questions for that parent and a sense of dread for the fate of that child.
Many sitting in the pews try to mask their pain. Outwardly, they appear to have it all together. They smile the biggest, they sing the loudest, but when they lay down at night their fears and pain rise to the surface. Do not let those masks fool you. Behind them are hurting, fearful people who need who need the healing that only God can provide. It is our job to point them to that healing.