Thursday, January 27, 2011

Don’t Look Back #4: Lift One Another Up

Here’s my last post in this series on the cost of following Christ…  You can read my previous posts here: DLB 1- my call to move away was hard
DLB 2- how giving up good things/enduring through hard things grows me (as I see Christ as the true treasure)
DLB 3- how giving up good/enduring hard shows the gospel to others

Please let it be clear that I do not think hardship/suffering is easy for the sufferer. And I am not saying that this “mini suffering” of moving is equal to other horrors. I believe that it’s beneficial to share this suffering because most of us will only really know these “mini sufferings”. They are very real and we can grow deeper into Christ through them.

Some of us will face more. Some are being prepared through the small so that when great tragedy falls, our strength is rooted and firm in Christ. Others already have experienced or are facing incredibly heartbreaking loss and pain. Those dear brothers and sisters can teach much more than I ever can and I am thankful for the example of so many in my life who have faced great tragedy and modeled faith in Christ.

These same truths God’s been teaching me are true for them. And I’m encouraged by the many believers I see live it out and grieve with hope, suffer debilitating disease with firm faith, rejoice when they are rejected, or sacrifice great wealth to give to others with incredible JOY because they know that Christ is the true treasure. I count it a privilege and (joyful) duty to pray for them and encourage them in the Word as I hear of their trials. 

Here’s a glimpse of a note I wrote to a sufferer once…
“I know that it’s true that for those who love God all things work together for good, that weeping lasts for a night, and that joy will come in the morning, but I'm not foolish enough to think that the night is not long and the good that comes is felt right awaypraying for you as you grieve… and believing God is still present and faithful…
(2Cor. 1:3-4, 11)
We're taking our role as pray-ers seriously and lifting you up!”

I don’t think it’s natural or normal for us to rejoice in suffering… I think that’s why there is so much instruction in how to and encouragement to endure suffering. We endure for Christ’s sake, through His strength, remembering His example, and believing Him for JOY both now and in the future. But we are not alone in it. We have a great high priest who is well aquainted with suffering (Hebrews 4:14-16) and offers mercy and grace to us in our time of need.

And God gives us one another- His people, to help us stand up under and endure. We cry together and laugh together. We ask the hard questions together and point each other back to the truth of His Word when it’s hard to remember. We believe God for the fruit in each other’s lives and many others through it. We walk the highs and lows together, pointing each other back to the cross and God’s great love for us. We remind each other that someday every tear will be wiped away. And we’ll know and understand the joy of that day so much more because we have suffered so greatly here.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood…”- Hebrews 13:1-2

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