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Almost immediately after I gave her the advice, I knew I'd told
her the wrong thing. But what could I do? I'd had my chance to help her
and blew it.
It was fairly early in my ministry when "Nancy" stopped by my office
to talk. I always had thought very highly of her, she was college-aged,
active in the church and seemed to have a lot on the ball. I'd enjoyed
every conversation we'd shared together-she was always so bubbly and positive.
And that was part of the problem. When she confided with me that she was
suffering from depression, I didn't take her seriously. How could someone
this happy be depressed? I thought as she described the way she felt
to me. Even during the conversation, she was upbeat and animated. In essence,
all I told her was to "hang in there, I'm sure everything would be fine."
We had prayer and I walked her to the front door and she left.
After I walked back into my study, I glanced outside my office window
and caught a glimpse of her as she got into her car. Her face had elongated,
her cheek bones had disappeared and her mouth had dropped into a deep frown.
I hardly recognized her. The change was dramatic.
Since that encounter I've learned that people often mask their problems,
even when seeking help. Certainly, I share some of the blame for not taking
Nancy's problem seriously, but she shares some of it too-she wasn't totally
honest with me. Her appearance was incongruent with her description of
the way she was feeling.
I prayed for another chance to help her and God answered my prayers.
One Sunday evening before the service began, she was sitting alone listening
to the choir practicing. I slipped into the pew next to her and said, "Nancy,
I've been praying for you since our visit, and..."
I'm grateful for second chances. And I'm grateful about the lesson I
learned from Nancy. There is no way to get help with my problems if I don't
admit-fully admit that I have them. That is true whether it is an emotional
problem like Nancy had, or a sin problem like we all have. The only way
to get the help God wants to give us is if we honestly confess our sins
Read the sermon
that corresponds to this devotional.