for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. 1 Thessalonians 3:7
We all felt small as we witnessed the perfecting of a transformed life. As pastors gathered together it was the senior among us who challenged us to remain faithful to the end. Pastor Edwin was an evangelist who traveled the world and stayed active sharing the gospel in local jails into his 90’s.
His impact of love and devotion occurred as he talked about taking care of his wife Ruth as her physical abilities were waning. He cried and asked for prayer from us. His desire was to be a better husband and show his wife more love and compassion. From our perspective, he was already doing it well beyond what each hoped to be able to aspire. All ministry opportunities took back seat to caring for his wife. In his struggles and pain, we were challenged to love our wives more fully.
Why does faithfulness in our present struggle bring hope and comfort to those who are watching? How you suffer makes a difference.
- First look to Jesus to help in your present struggle.
- 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, 2 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. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV
- Taking your eyes off of your very real suffering and looking to Jesus begins the process to endure.
- Many stay focused on their own pain and the unjustness for having to go through their trial and never look to Jesus to draw strength from Him.
- The Body of Christ builds up itself in the Lord
- Every joint (person who is a follower of Jesus) has a gift for others. No matter what your spiritual gift may be, Paul states that we are linked together to build each other up in love.
- Your spiritual gift is for the benefit of others, not to bring honor or importance to yourself.
- The test in the testimony has been given to you because God with you can help you pass the challenge.
- Everybody’s story is unique. Both good and bad come our way. No matter how unjust, Jesus remains walking with you throughout the challenge.
What about cancer? What about COVID deaths or scars? What about being on the receiving end of evil? What happens if my child or spouse dies because of a drunk driver? What about having to endure physical or sexual abuse?
God still brings comfort to every place of pain. Then you are suited to comfort others. But the comfort starts WHILE you are going through it….not when it is over.
I have found strength personally by reminding myself that God is good. My suffering is painful and my experience may be unjust. But remembering God is good, helps me draw strength to endure. Even though the experience is bad, God is still good. Even when the thorns are growing sharper and bigger, God is allowing a beautiful rose to bloom on top.
Share your story as it is happening. Ask for prayers to keep enduring. And all the while people are being strengthened, equipped, built up and stimulated to continue in love and good works.
Blessings Love y’all