Run towards suffering

Every week in our church, whoever delivers the sermon also gets to write up a follow up devotional for some additional reflection.  Here is my sermon and the follow up devo!  Enjoy :)

ENCOUNTER: Read Ephesians 4:2

This last week's message was a challenging one.  If you are in the middle of the dark night of the soul and walking through the valley of the shadow of darkness, there are no trite words or even wise and insightful words that will comfort in this season.  Suffering and heartbreak are devastating and groaning is really all we can do. 

But for those who are not currently in that season, we have been invited into a high calling, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and run towards the suffering.  We are called to selflessly give more and more of our heart, time, resources to those who are struggling and suffering and even to those who may be the cause of some of our suffering.  (Remeber Jesus even washed Judas' feet.)

As our world seems to be experiencing more and more suffering, the church has an incredible opportunity.  Not to stand on the sidelines and point our finger at those who do wrong, but to roll up our sleeves and walk towards those who suffer and bear with them.  

Bearing with others, especially those who are suffering is a uniquely Christian calling and one that speaks to the depth of our humanity.  We all need people to see us, to be present with us, and to walk with us, and when we suffer we need that even more.  Helping someone carry the suffocating load of suffering is a gift and a calling.  Bearing with one another is also part of our spiritual formation that has atrophied in an increasingly individualistic world.

What a witness it would be for the world to see us crazy Christians as people who willingly wade into the suffering and bring with us grace, mercy, and mostly hope!  

BE REFLECTIVE: Who is your world is really struggling right now?  What can you do today to bear with them?  What larger issue is happening in your world or community that you can intentionally walk towards those who are suffering?

BE A BLESSING:  Just think, your very presence, your care, and support as you bear with someone suffering is one of the best gifts you could give.  Taking this from the theoretical to the practical is what will change lives and allow you to be a blessing!

BE TOGETHER:  LIke all spiritual formation, our spirit is willing, but our flesh is so weak.  (Especially when it comes to embracing more suffering.)  This is a difficult call and one that would go better if you brought along someone else to share the burden.  Think about how much less a burden is when it is shared by more than one person.  Good luck!