Go read Philippians 1:30.
<> How important is it to have someone walk alongside you during pain?
<> What effect does it have when someone who has been through a similar situation opens up and encourages you in the midst of tough times?
I love Paul’s comment Philippians 1:30: “since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” Can you hear the loving paternal tone? It’s like Paul is saying, “hey you’re not alone in this. I’m here with you. Actually, I’m glad that you’re here with me now.”
What Suffering Does
Matt did a great job on Sunday night of talking about what suffering does. I think one of the strongest and most unique aspects of suffering to apply to our lives is that “suffering gives us credibility with Christians and non-Christians alike.” Here’s the thing though, suffering can only give you this credibility if a few things happen:
1.) You have to learn and heal and grow as a result of the suffering you’re going through.
If you are becoming more faithless as a result of your suffering, then you’re not going to be able to use it to encourage anyone. Until you submit yourself to trusting a loving God, it’s pretty much impossible for Him to use hard times in your life the way He wants to. This DOES NOT mean you are supposed to act like everything’s ok when things are very much not ok. It means you are supposed to honestly face your issues and deal with them and deal with Jesus so that He can bring healing in your life. If you need accountability and encouragement of Christian peers – FIND IT. If you need wise older counsel and assistance – FIND IT. If you need professional counseling – FIND IT (and Midtown is willing to help you with that.) But more than anything for most of you, you probably just need to have a good open honest conversation or thirty with Jesus and see what He’s got to say in the Scriptures.
<> Do you need peers, mentors, or professional help in areas that you have been unwilling to look for?
<> What conversations do you need to have with Jesus for healing to start?
2.) You have to be willing to be honest about the suffering you’ve been through.
The pain you’ve experienced will never help anyone as long as you are stuffing it deep down into your soul and acting like it doesn’t exist. Being honest about what you’ve been through involves a willingness to let others learn in an easier way, what you learned in a hard way. It also involves being vulnerable about the struggle and pain along the way. While you have to have learned and grown before you will be helpful to others, you don’t have to be done learning and growing. Being honest about the process that God is taking you through can be one of the most powerful encouragements in someone else’s pain.
<> Are there areas of your life that have taught you huge lessons that you are unwilling to talk to other people about?
<> When you share about hard times in your life, do you sugarcoat the situation or act like it’s all over when really you’re still working through it?
Sharing in Suffering
Go read Romans 12:15.
The whole idea of mourning with those who mourn is that we as Christians should be the most sympathetic people in the world. Following Christ’s example, we are practicing what it looks like to die to ourselves daily (Luke 9:23) and love each other more than ourselves (Rom. 12:10). When we see our family in pain our natural instinct should be to walk through it with them – to share our experiences so they can avoid some of the pain we’ve already been through AND so that we can see how God is able to use our suffering for good and for His glory.
You are not alone in this thing.
<> Are you living your life in a way that helps others know that they are not alone?