I sometimes lose sight of God in my daily life. He doesn’t change or move away from me, but little by little I make the busy-ness of life and the cares of this world bigger than Him. It usually happens gradually during busy times packed with work demands and social functions. After rushing through prayers and turning my time in His Word into academics that don’t touch my heart, I rush off to tackle work, ill-equipped and stripped of joy. Day after day I put Him behind the day’s pressing issues until my eyes feel they are bulging in their sockets as I come home with little left over for my family.
Thankfully, God’s word is a great big pharmacy of prescriptions for overcoming these funks. The challenge is to faithfully take the medicine. In John 14:27 Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus left us his peace, but how do we receive and retain it and follow his instruct not to be troubled or afraid? I think one of the secrets is found in Hebrews 10:24, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
I woke this morning with a couple of people on my heart who are going through tough times. I was considering what I could say or do to encourage them in the midst of their situations. I thought of the book of Philippians which I often turn to when facing adversity. Paul wrote this letter to the church in Philippi while imprisoned. Despite the circumstances, you hear joy in his words. He begins his letter by noting who it is from, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus.” He had a friend and brother in Christ by his side. He goes on to thank the Philippians for their concern for him, and for “sharing in his troubles” by sending gifts and one of their own (Epaphroditus) to take care of his needs.
Going through tough times can make us feel so isolated. I remember feeling that way after the loss of a loved one, thinking it was so odd that everyone around me was going on with life while I was so broken. I had neither the energy nor the desire to participate. But I began noticing that I felt better after a short visit or phone call from someone close enough to share my burden.
God designed us for community. From the beginning of creation he said it was not good for man to be alone. How can anyone help me carry my burdens if they don’t know about them? When I am troubled I need to seek the company of people I know and trust, and when I have an opportunity to encourage those I care about through their trials it blesses me as well. That is God’s design. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2