in suffering and pain…

To say we are in the midst of uncertain economic times is an understatement.  A quick look at the news headlines will certainly move a person.  It moves some to fear and anxiety, others to depression and methods of escape.  It shakes all of us to the core because we realize that there are real people and families behind the headlines.  And they aren’t just distant people and families without faces, they are our neighbors, friends, co-workers, classmates, and church members.

It is easy to talk about the hills and valleys of life when you are on the hill, right?  It is a much different conversation when you are in the valleys.  The valleys are shadowy places full of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. 

How are we going to make it through this? 

How am I going to provide for my family? 

I feel so isolated and alone…God do you hear me? 

God are you even there?

As a Christian…I wonder if we truly understand the profound role we play in joining people in places of suffering and pain.  I wonder if we truly understand the need to be in the presence of others through their anger and doubt.  I wonder if too many times we simply relegate God as the distant third-party who may or may not get involved in the messy affairs of humanity, so we toss our prayers across the great divide hoping that they just might reach him.

Yet we get a very different perspective from Jesus in regards to who we are and where God is. 

“a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth.”

i have written previously that the word worship in Greek is proskuneo…which means to lie prostrate, face to the ground.  One who worships God is one who submits everything he is and everything he has before God who is worthy.  It is a sacrificial position.  We sacrifice everything we have and everything we are.  We become less…and he becomes more in our lives.  

And since God is Spirit…we become a vessel through which God flows to bless and heal the world. We are the means through which God extends his love, mercy, justice, peace, healing, and grace into the world.   We become a point where God meets people in their doubt, hurt, suffering, heartache, and pain.  We walk into those places…we don’t retreat.  We are the means through which heaven breaks into this space/time reality and the gates of hell are broken down, as we fulfill the prayer of Jesus when he said, “Your Kingdom come your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” 

God is anything but a distant third-party in our suffering.  He does not leave us alone in our pain to fend for ourselves, rather he ministers and comforts in and through those who worship him.  We sacrifice ourselves so that the Spirit of God can speak words of life, healing, and truth into others.  Through worship, the Spirit of God breaks out into the world in prayer, in praise, in service putting broken pieces back together. 

A world that is in pain and asking questions does not need more religious people…it needs Spirit-filled people.  A community that is in doubt doesn’t need gimmicks or cheap tactics to increase weekly attendance…it needs the loving, caring, and compassionate hand of God extending out through people of worship.  Our friends and neighbors who have just lost a job and are trying to take care of a family do not need trite responses from superficial people…they need to hear the comforting and assuring voice of the Spirit speaking through  humble and selfless servants.     

A Spirit-filled church is the means through which God meets and heals a world in suffering and pain.

brandon  

One thought on “in suffering and pain…

  1. I saw your email yesterday and the title, but did not get a chance to read it until this morning. Before I read your post I read Ecclesiastes 5 and I encourage everyone to read it. It is kind of a two fold message that contributes to the same cause of holiness and being set apart as we are all called to be. While in trials we feel as though we are the pit bull backed into a corner; we feel as thought the entire world is crashing down on us and our only defense is our tongue. Poisoning of relationships usually happens via the tongue. If we first engage our vertical relationship with God through prayer and awe of Him this allows us to engage our horizontal relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as non-believers. The second part of 5 is focusing on money and our use of it, how it drives us and where our focus should be. Keeping in mind the first part of the chapter we are told to stand in awe of God, ergo allowing him to be our sustainer and not the paper and pieces of round metal in our pockets. Wanting more is the human race’s trumpet call or banner that seems to always go in front of us. Even further is our desire to be in constant comfort without trial. This is the vice we are brought up with and it is the expectation that we are to be more fit than the parents who brought us up or more fit than our neighbors. We are finding that this age of thinking is gone or susspended until further notice and should not be the expectation any longer. This is just one of the many world systems that takes our eyes off the ball. Christ is our sustenance, not some world system or ideal we love to grasp tightly to. I too have grasped the false promises of systems, but I now know that Christ saves me, not systems, not promises I was given by men, not the promise of a bonus not received, not a job I felt I would have forever, not even a life I felt would be free of trial. All Hail King Jesus! We stand in your awe for your prescence and guidance, not man’s. We submit our lifes to you, oh Lord. Let us keep in step with you oh Holy Spirit. In Christ’s Name – Amen

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