May 25, 2018 | by: 0 Comments|
Brothers & Sisters,
Suffering is not just a part of Christian experience, it is also a part of human experience. Still, as members of Arlington Baptist, we have especially promised to “bear each other’s burdens and sorrows.” How do we do that? What should we say to a brother or sister who is suffering? What can we do to help? How can we express God’s love, goodness, control, and care? In his little book Where Was God When That Happened?, Christopher Ash provides some helpful direction, writing:
Suffering numbs feelings and makes it very hard to pay attention. Never forget this when you are with someone who is suffering. In some ways the best time to let the truth of God’s sovereignty get into our hearts is before we are in the depths of suffering. But that is no help when someone you care for is troubled or distraught. So sit with them, weep with them (Romans 12:15), listen to their cries and grief without endlessly interrupting them. Give them practical help, for they may not be able to manage the simple matters of food, washing, dressing, and the everyday chores of life.
Don’t give them shallow platitudes or rebuke them for their cries (“Oh, pull yourself together and remember God is in control!”). Care for them. Look after them.
Pray with them, for they may scarcely be able to pray; don’t deny or minimize the awfulness of what may be happening, but put into words a quiet trust in your and their heavenly Father in the midst of the darkness. Very gently remind them of some of the previous promises in this book. Write down some precious promises on a card, so they can re-read them in the night. Perhaps especially join them in being humbled under God’s mighty hand, trusting that he is the only wise God and he really does work all thing together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). If you can, point them to the future hope for which we long, to lift their eyes from the darkness and misery of this world to the beauty and wonder of the age to come. Above all, take them to the cross of Jesus, where he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows in his own heart and in his body.
And don’t give up on them. If you are to be a real friend in Jesus to them, you will not be able to “solve” their grief in one sitting. Be a faithful friend, a patient comforter, a practical companion – for however long it takes.
[Christopher Ash, Where Was God When That Happened?, Questions Christians Ask (Place of publication not identified: The Good Book Company, 2017), 55-56.]
It is my prayer that as a church family we would love and serve each other with the kind of tenderness and sympathy outlined above – coming alongside one another with the compassion of Christ. While we may pray for the Lord Jesus to protect our congregation from suffering, let us also pray that should he call us into it, we will be mindful of what it means to minister to one another in the midst of suffering.
Warmly in Christ,
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