It has been about three weeks since I last posted on this blog. The reason is that God has been doing a deep work in my heart and going after things that I had not given Him as of yet due to my own pain from things in my past. It has been a very intense time while Jesus ministered to me through a couple of precious saints who have suffered much in the last few years.
“For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit… That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (1 Corinthians 12:13-27 KJ2000)
Have you ever thought about the depths of Paul’s love for Jesus when he wrote, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10 KJ2000)? “The fellowship of HIS sufferings! What a curious thing to say, Paul. Isn’t fellowship suppose to make us feel all warm and fuzzy?
Jesus made it clear that the goal of the Father is for us who are His to walk in this world just as He did, motivated by the love of the Father and being poured-out for those in need. And that means that we should not be indifferent to the pains of another if we are truly living IN Christ. We are in touch with their pain because HE is in touch with their pains and sufferings! We are to be their “Jesus with skin on,” and be His conduit of love and comfort in their time of need.
So, how often do we find this same sacrificial love of Christ among our fellow Christians when WE are the ones who are suffering? Sure, they will often offer “sound advice” when we are troubled and maybe even be given the name of “a good counsellor,” but they either want to get away from our pain or quickly put the “fix” on us to make themselves more comfortable. They don’t want us to rock their perfectly orchestrated worlds.
One time I was going through a hard time in my life when nothing seemed to be going right. I went to church one Sunday hoping to find comfort. A brother walked up, shook my hand and said, “How are you doing, brother? Good to see you!” As I started to share with him just how I was doing and shared the first thing that had befell me, thinking he really cared, he said, “Well, that’s great, brother, see you next Sunday,” turned and walked away!
How often has someone like this or even a family member just sat there with us, held our hand as we poured-out our hearts, cried with us and really entered into OUR sufferings and pain? Yes, true love and fellowship with another member of Christ’s body sometimes requires that we suffer with the one who is hurting and just love them through it all without doing our best to put a “FIX” on them, until Christ heals them in HIS time. We live in such a shallow world when we look for REAL fellowship and enduring love and no one wants to be bothered. When we are suffering it can be a very lonely world, but Jesus leaves the 99 sheep, goes out, finds us, and personally loves and heals us.
Paul wrote, “Bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 KJ2000). This requires getting down in the trenches with those who are burdened and helping them with their load. May we all search our hearts and ask the Lord to change us so that we walk as Christ does with all those He puts in our lives, for better or for worse, in their triumphs and their sufferings. As one pastor used to say, “This is a test! This life is ONLY a test.”
Wow Michael I can identify with what you are saying..I’m in a difficult time in my life right now and I feel all alone..when I go to the gathering I still feel alone..you know it’s just the same old stuff…how are you oh I’m fine and then that’s it..I read the scripture and it tells me that nothing can separate me from Gods love in Christ but man I do wait for God to do something..anyway I still know that I have to stick it out and trust that all will work out for the good..it’s all boils out to an issue of where God wants me geographically ..does he want me here in tulsa or maybe back in Florida or maybe somewhere else..I’m just waiting for his leading.but for sure it gets lonely in this walk.
Yes, Kenneth, religion without the Spirit of Christ and HIS love in the saints is all so shallow… so many empty platitudes when we are soooo alone for and need His touch of love from another saint and an understanding ear… I pray He will guide you ever closer to HIM, regardless of where you live, my brother.
Oh thank you Michael for your prayers and you can be sure I am talking to our dad about your life too.
Bro. Michael, I appreciate your fellowship, whether it be the fellowship of your suffering – or the fellowship of your rejoicing. While pain is always a grief while in it, we rejoice in the fruit that it produces.
My deepest pain and my greatest rejoicing have both been the result of family issues.
I went through a few years of pain in a church situation, but as recovery as progressed, I only feel love and even appreciation for those people.
I pray for all of us in the body to be healed and made whole for the glory of God, but some how not to lose the ability to be touched with the feelings of the infirmities of others.
I check your blog every day to read if you have a new post, so I rejoiced this morning that you had a new post.
My love and appreciation to you and Dorothy,
Pat, so good to hear from you again. You said it right, In Hebrews we read, “Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11 KJ2000).
Yes, those closest to us can inflict the greatest pain because our “shields are down” around them and our hearts are open to them in love.This reminds me of that curious verse in the Zechariah that say, “And one shall say unto him, ‘What are these wounds between your hands?’ Then he shall answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’” (Zechariah 13:6 KJ2000). Somehow Father has allowed it to be so. We expect the world to persecute us for Christ in us, but when we get this harsh treatment in the “house of our friends” it is almost unbearable. God knows that to produce a deep death in our old man nature, it takes a deep wound and so we find the deepest wounding among those closest to us. Do we withdraw and hide or do we embrace it as from Him? That is the test.
When the woman with the alabaster box of perfume anointed Jesus she had to break it and pour it all out on Him. She was extravagant with her love for Him and the disciples all counted it a waste! If we are willing to be broken and poured out on Jesus and have our lives counted as a waste in the sight of the world, Jesus will be satisfied, AND the whole house will be filled with the fragrance of our sacrifice.
We love and appreciate you, too, Pat.
Thanks for this post. To me, the picture of the boy carrying his brother says it all. The stronger takes no thought of the weight of the brothers burden, it is natural for him to carry him. I was having a discussion with a brother yesterday on how we can learn so much from our children. If our 1 year old would wander into the street, our oldest would lead her back to the yard without a thought of receiving praise and without ever thinking that the younger owed her respect or thanks. It is just natural for the elder to look after the younger. It painted a great picture in my mind, much like this image from your post does.
I have been reading your writings for some time and have been challenged to walk in the Spirit, to know Him rather than know about Him.
You are right about the simplicity of what it means to be an elder In Christ with our younger siblings (I will be 70 in December so I guess I finally qualify). The older brother out of love warns the younger of certain pitfalls that are ahead and rushed to help when they are in danger… AND he doesn’t expect a wage or reward or even a title for doing so. He simply acts out of the love of God shed abroad in his heart for his siblings and LOVE is enough “reward” in itself. This is what a good shepherd does as well for the sheep.
Joe, thanks for letting me know about the impact the Lord’s words on here have had in your life.
I was just thinking this afternoon that even though we will pray for one another, Jesus is not going to ask us one day if we prayed for the burdens of others, He is going to tell us that He was hungry and we gave Him bread, sick and we visited Him, thirsty, etc. We will not even know when we do these things for it will all be done so naturally with a heart filled with Him who is love! This is the litmus test of being Pappa’s children; His sacrificial love that enables us to love one another. Our left hand will not know what the right hand is doing for it will be Jesus in us, our only hope of glory. Thanks for your prayers today, my brother!
Love to Dorothy
You have it right, for sure! Jesus said this very things would be the deciding factor on whether we are HIS chosen… hearts filled with His love that are easily directed to pour out His love and help on those who are in need, not just empty platitudes that sound “Christian.” James put it this way, “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled; yet you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit?” (James 2:15-16 KJ2000). God might own the cattle on a thousand hills, but as it was in the parable of the Rich man and the vineyard, He leaves his stewards in charge of the herds to disperse His wealth as He wishes… The problem is with the stewardship, not with God’s generosity and love.
I have on occasion had the Lord withhold me from comforting as well as to give comfort. Yes, I shared in the pain in a spiritual way as if it were my own, but He had his hand at work and I was not to disturb the process. So I suffered right alongside at a distance. We should if possible set emotion aside as it gets in front of the working of the Spirit. All flesh even the very most admiral loving, caring, concerned flesh is at work against the Holy Spirit. I know this can sound insensitive, but allowing the Spirit to; work if in fact this is what is happening in a believers life; has precedent. When our emotion is elevated it is very confusing to know what to do.
My close brother was on the other side with me once and he knew my pain. He had no avenue of assistance to me. It was the Lord doing a work. I have comfort now just knowing he was hurting with me. The Lord is perfect. Nothing whatsoever in a believers life is outside His will. Even our deepest suffering. Those false comforters are there to add to it for our benefit and growth. You can even with the ear of the Spirit here satan mocking you through them. Poking you in the weak spot. That very spot the Lord is putting to death in order to conform us into an image and likeness of His Son.
I hope you are well brother. I hope you suffered well and brought a fragrant offering to the Father. I hope you found a small amount of joy in the midst of it all. I also hope to hear the resurrected life in your teaching. You are one of three that encourage me to press forward. I am grateful beyond measure to have meet you and hope to soon in person.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Yes, Kevin, this is true. On occasion the Lord takes us to the woodshed, so to speak (See Hebrews ch. 12), and others have to go through an extended wilderness period in their lives in which no one can comfort them no matter how hard they try. Job was such a case and there have been many more like him whom the Lord has purified this way. Mine lasted for 14 years.
I guess I made my opening paragraph in this blog sound like I had gone through some terrible, grueling time of testing… it was not. In fact the Lord showed me what was still in the dregs of my heart and I immediately repented and He removed it. The other time took 14 years because I had built up such a pile of religious rubbish on HIS foundation (with the help of well meaning ministries I had been under) that it took major surgery to untangle that tumor’s tentacles from around my heart and kill the pride that it had fed.
No, the point of what I wrote was to bring to light that we are members one of another IN Christ and when one member suffers, all members suffer in a healthy body… not so in most religious institutions where coldness and distance are the norm and even encouraged among the faithful (divide and conquer) by the management.
Kevin, thanks, for your input and encouragement and I hope we get to meet one of these days.
It did sound like you had a tough one. Small or large they always seem to be a perfect fit to our need. I know what you are getting at about one suffering and all suffer. Its a wonderful thing to experience; to be able to bear another’s pain with them.
“They don’t want us to rock their perfectly orchestrated worlds.”
And yet we are called to ‘mourn with those who mourn’, not turn our backs on those whose grief or pain makes us uncomfortable. If we are not being moved with the compassion of Christ in us, I’d suggest we are not rightly connected.
(BTW, I think this goes doubly so when it comes to survivors of abuse – no-one wants to know about it. At best you seem to get, “I’m sorry you are hurting, but I don’t want to get involved.”)
I went through something similar. I cried out to the Lord to supply my spiritual need for authentic fellowship in my season of need, claiming His promise that He will supply all of my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:9). AND HE DID. Because He never goes back on His Word. I wrote this blog entry afterwards: