When I Feel Powerless

Sometimes I feel powerless and weary of doing good. When we tap into the power of the Holy Spirit, we find what we do can make a difference.

When I Feel Powerless

January 28, 2021

“I didn’t realize they only accepted cash. I only have my debit card.”

Turning around, I located the speaker, a young lady about my daughter’s age. Glancing at her modest bag of apples, I smiled. “We have extra cash. I’m sure we can cover your purchase.” 

Chatting easily, we made our way to the cashier. When it came time to part ways, my new friend asked if she could send me the money via venmo. Instead, I asked her to “pay it forward”, to do something nice for someone else. As she left, I had no doubts. I knew she would spread kindness. 

I enjoy doing good and helping others. But lately I’ve felt a bit unplugged, unenergized, and unmotivated. When this happens, I feel powerless.

It can be so hard to keep doing the next right thing. Especially when the world feels so off-kilter. My heart breaks at the division, unrest and fear I see all around me. Do my good deeds make any significant difference? 

In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote these words of encouragement:

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV)

The Greek word translated as power in this Scripture, dunamis, expresses a specific type of power, one that equips us to do or to accomplish powerful deeds or marvelous works. From this same word we get our English word, dynamite

The same power given us through the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from death. (Romans 8:11) While I love knowing I can tap into this power, I struggle to understand what I can possibly accomplish to help this hurting world. I can’t make COVID and its consequences disappear. I don’t possess the political knowledge or contacts needed to reconcile a divided country. Nor do I believe these are the works the Lord has prepared for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

So what has he called me to do?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
     And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
     and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NIV)

I love this passage from the prophet Micah. Serving God during a particularly turbulent period, he witnessed the fall of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) to the conquering nation of Assyria. At the same time, the Southern Kingdom (Judah) experienced constant political upheaval as control vacillated between good and bad kings.

Since we also live in turbulent times, Micah’s words aptly describe how we can serve:

  • To act justly: This simply means to do what is right, or to practice the Golden Rule. (Matthew 7:12)
  • To love mercy: The word translated as mercy, chesed, carries the idea of action. To love mercy implies love expressed through deeds, and not just emotion.
  • To walk humbly with your God: To walk with God means we make him part of our daily life routines. Humility requires us to recognize and respect his sovereignty. 

Can living this way really change the world around us?

Recently I read a quote attributed to Mother Teresa:

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.

The ripple effect refers to the continuing and spreading results of an action or event. This idea illustrates the “Pay It Forward” movement. Random acts of kindness, smiles, and encouraging words exemplify acting justly and loving mercy. But are they effective in changing the world? 

Researchers at the University of California found generosity can be contagious. Their study showed the domino effect of generosity experienced by the participants, who were all strangers. Although the true multiplier effect may not be known, the researchers found the lives of dozens, if not hundreds, of people can be affected by one simple act of kindness. 

It’s fun to look back on that day in the orchard. I like to imagine what other acts of kindness may have rippled through the world because I obeyed God and showed kindness to a stranger. And that motivates me to want to do more of the same.

We may never see the results of our actions, but God does. And he promises we will reap the benefit if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9

Whenever I grow weary in my journey, I pray to tap into his power. May I honor the One who leads me by spreading kindness along the way. Wherever your journey takes you, I pray you can do the same. Together, we may just change the world, one ripple at a time.

When I Feel Powerless

January 28, 2021

Sometimes I feel powerless and weary of doing good. When we tap into the power of the Holy Spirit, we find what we do can make a difference.

“I didn’t realize they only accepted cash. I only have my debit card.”

Turning around, I located the speaker, a young lady about my daughter’s age. Glancing at her modest bag of apples, I smiled. “We have extra cash. I’m sure we can cover your purchase.” 

Chatting easily, we made our way to the cashier. When it came time to part ways, my new friend asked if she could send me the money via venmo. Instead, I asked her to “pay it forward”, to do something nice for someone else. As she left, I had no doubts. I knew she would spread kindness. 

I enjoy doing good and helping others. But lately I’ve felt a bit unplugged, unenergized, and unmotivated. When this happens, I feel powerless.

It can be so hard to keep doing the next right thing. Especially when the world feels so off-kilter. My heart breaks at the division, unrest and fear I see all around me. Do my good deeds make any significant difference? 

In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote these words of encouragement:

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV)

The Greek word translated as power in this Scripture, dunamis, expresses a specific type of power, one that equips us to do or to accomplish powerful deeds or marvelous works. From this same word we get our English word, dynamite

The same power given us through the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from death. (Romans 8:11) While I love knowing I can tap into this power, I struggle to understand what I can possibly accomplish to help this hurting world. I can’t make COVID and its consequences disappear. I don’t possess the political knowledge or contacts needed to reconcile a divided country. Nor do I believe these are the works the Lord has prepared for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

So what has he called me to do?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
     And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
     and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NIV)

I love this passage from the prophet Micah. Serving God during a particularly turbulent period, he witnessed the fall of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) to the conquering nation of Assyria. At the same time, the Southern Kingdom (Judah) experienced constant political upheaval as control vacillated between good and bad kings.

Since we also live in turbulent times, Micah’s words aptly describe how we can serve:

  • To act justly: This simply means to do what is right, or to practice the Golden Rule. (Matthew 7:12)
  • To love mercy: The word translated as mercy, chesed, carries the idea of action. To love mercy implies love expressed through deeds, and not just emotion.
  • To walk humbly with your God: To walk with God means we make him part of our daily life routines. Humility requires us to recognize and respect his sovereignty. 

Can living this way really change the world around us?

Recently I read a quote attributed to Mother Teresa:

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.

The ripple effect refers to the continuing and spreading results of an action or event. This idea illustrates the “Pay It Forward” movement. Random acts of kindness, smiles, and encouraging words exemplify acting justly and loving mercy. But are they effective in changing the world? 

Researchers at the University of California found generosity can be contagious. Their study showed the domino effect of generosity experienced by the participants, who were all strangers. Although the true multiplier effect may not be known, the researchers found the lives of dozens, if not hundreds, of people can be affected by one simple act of kindness. 

It’s fun to look back on that day in the orchard. I like to imagine what other acts of kindness may have rippled through the world because I obeyed God and showed kindness to a stranger. And that motivates me to want to do more of the same.

We may never see the results of our actions, but God does. And he promises we will reap the benefit if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9

Whenever I grow weary in my journey, I pray to tap into his power. May I honor the One who leads me by spreading kindness along the way. Wherever your journey takes you, I pray you can do the same. Together, we may just change the world, one ripple at a time.

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2 Comments

  1. Teresa on January 29, 2021 at 3:16 PM

    I like this lesson for today. I often wonder when doing a random act of kindness whether the people I have blessed continue with the kindness. I love the promise we have with God when we just keep following him. Thanks Shirley I needed that lesson.

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on January 30, 2021 at 8:09 AM

      Thanks Teresa! As always, I appreciate your feedback. (I needed this lesson, too.) 💕

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