Our church family is suffering. We have experienced much loss and have so many who are in crisis. When we focus on our circumstances it is overwhelming and heartbreaking.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:14-18 ESV)
Many of these personal struggles have been made public. We live in a relatively small community where news travels and changes as it goes. People don’t know the whole story nor the motivations or backgrounds behind the troubled hearts, so they feel the need to add their own interpretations and opinions, sometimes stating them as fact.
It can be difficult to know what to do or say that will help when you see Christian brothers and sisters who are apparently walking off of the path of God’s will. We are called to restore one another gently. We must trust the work that the Lord is doing and not intervene in His pruning, but rather encourage and support the one being pruned. Remember, God loves them!
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:7-8 ESV)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32 ESV)
God seems to be sifting us as wheat, bringing hidden struggles into the light of His truth. It is only then that He can begin the healing work of sanctification, if we do not harden our hearts toward Him. We must trust God in the midst of our trials. We must walk humbly and serve one another with much love, grace, and forgiveness. Above all, we must keep ourselves right before God. We must keep ourselves from gossip, ask God to show us if and how we are to help restore our Christian brothers and sisters, and pray for them daily.
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:22-25 ESV)
Father God, we need You. We know that You are sovereign over all of these situations. Our hearts break as their hearts are breaking. Show us God how we can minister to them and to do our part to restore them. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Help us to trust You, not only in the midst of our storms and trials, but also in the midst of the storms and trials that others face. Thank You Lord for Your Holy Word that is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. I lift up my church family to You God and ask that You will purify our hearts and give us love for one another that offers grace upon grace and forgiveness to one another as You have forgiven us. Help us learn to love one another well. Amen.
Where does God need you to shine His light today? Call or send a note of encouragement to someone who is struggling in their faith or in a relationship. Include God’s word as a promise or encouraging scripture for them. Pray for each other that God’s refining work will be done, that the lessons He is teaching will be learned well, and that He will be glorified in each situation.
“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:10-13 ESV)
Our sufferings give us an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to bring glory to His great name. He is at work in all of these situations. Let us keep our eyes on the Father.
Be encouraged. Press on.