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  • Writer's pictureRenata Joseph

A Hard Bargain

I recently made contact with a former student. I have a soft spot for him and his family. Since first working with him 4 years ago, they have been through a lot of hardship, including losing his brother to gun violence last Spring. I'm grateful to be able to check on him and send little encouragements his way.

The great part about working in social services is having the privilege of walking with people through life's storms. This year that I've been away, I've gotten a break from helping others tread water. Honestly, with all that happened in 2020, I don't know how I could have kept it up. But that calling to stand with the oppressed, to encourage the disheartened, is still there.

While I've been away, tending to my heart and my own family, the people who are down keep taking hits. The work of God's people isn't done. There are plenty more rescue missions ahead. I find myself whispering prayers that I might get back at it soon. I want to strike a deal with God and get back in the game.

Isaiah 61:1-3a

1The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

because the Lord has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,

2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,

3and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,

the oil of joy

instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair.

These verses were fulfilled in Jesus, but he calls us to join Him in the work. Sometimes His plan and timing don't align with mine, or it's unclear as to how and when to begin again. It feels like my experience and skills are going to waste while I'm sitting at home, waiting. I wonder when my time on the sidelines will be up. I try to bargain; "Is one year enough?" I know if my heart is open, He'll reveal the right path for me here. There's no lack of need all around me; sooner or later I may even get more than I bargained for.

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