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Second Chances


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 to Him.

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