because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings… (1 Peter 5:9).
Sometimes, the only person’s suffering I can see is my own. My own disappointment, my own unmet expectations, my own inner grief, and sadness. I spend so much time looking in that I rarely look out to see where someone else is hurting and how I can meet that need for them. Our inner places of grief often keep us stuck in places of “woe is me.”
What would Jesus say to a person caught in grief? I think He would say, “Look up and look outside yourself.” There are many people in our world suffering through the same issues as us, but we’re never aware because we never look up and look out to find them. Many of our stories stay hidden for fear of being looked down on and chastised by others, so we lock our stories away, staying stuck in those places of our own personal suffering. The church should be a place where we share our stories and receive the grace of God. Sometimes, sadly, the church would rather we hide our stories, for fear of the mess they might create.
The other night at work, we were very short staffed and of course, very busy. The team we had there that night worked extremely hard, never complained and just kept pushing forward. At the end of the night, things looked a little bit like a bomb blasted off in a war zone. It was messy, but we got through it together. We pulled extra weight with each other, never complained, and did our best to shoulder a greater load, knowing that eventually, we would hit the finish line. As the clock struck 10pm we all breathed a sigh of relief. We had done it. We did it together. It was messy, but we got through it.
Sometimes the mess of our life needs to come up because God wants to set us free. Bringing things out into the light might create a bigger mess than what was there before, but in the body of Christ, one of our greatest purposes is not found in running great programs, but shouldering through the hardships of life with people. It’s coming alongside them, not fearing their mess, but helping them get through it and clean it up once its all said and done.
This type of attitude takes us outside of our own selves as we look to serve the needs of someone else. This is why God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. The proud in heart cannot invite a mess into their midst, because they fear how it might taint their own image. The humble invite it because they long not just for themselves, but for everyone to be free.
Lord, I know that everyone around the world is experiencing some kind of suffering. I’ve got to be honest, sometimes the only suffering I care about is my own. I don’t make it a priority to love hurting people. Sometimes I don’t invite their mess into my life, because I just don’t want to deal with it. Forgive me for my own selfish heart that doesn’t look to meet the needs of hurting people, but only focuses on my own lot in life. Jesus, forgive me, I want to live in your joy and abundance today, Amen.