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As I’ve gotten older and especially during these past five and a half years of long-term unemployment, I’ve discovered a sad fact in the Christian community. We don’t often carry one another’s burdens. We do give a fair amount of lip service to others carrying burdens by saying thing like “I’m praying for you,” or “I’m sure God will come through in some way,” and often accompanied by a look on our face that says we really don’t care all that much. But to offer meaningful help?
Not so much . . .
Listening to trite answers from folks who call themselves Christian who are supposed to be helpful in meaningful ways is absolutely worthless (and so are the ulterior motives that are sometimes behind those trite answers). I’m certainly not implying that all folks who call themselves Christians are that way, but in the past 5 1/2 years, it’s been discouraging to see just how many have been and seem to be. Unfortunately, we are really good at judging others we don’t know or understand and gossiping about them behind their backs (and, again, watch out for those ulterior motives) instead of helping them in their time of need. And even if we can’t help, we should at the very least be genuinely concerned. Fake is easily discerned. So is a total lack of empathy.
So, how about we step up to the plate and be what Jesus Christ told us to be if we truly follow after him (see Luke 6:27-36). Loving our neighbors and our enemies and anybody else we don’t happen to like is not an option, not if we call ourselves Christian. And if we can help someone with something other than trite answers and cutesy Christian catch phrases that we rarely follow through on (like the infamous one–“I’m praying for you”–while exiting the conversation as quickly as possible), we should be doing it. If we don’t, who will? When was the last time we actually put ourselves in someone else’s shoes even for a few moments to try to understand their plight instead of only caring about our own. And I’m not talking about those folks we hang with or like. I’m talking about strangers in our midst, too.
’Nough said. See the reblogged post below from “The Daily Way” titled, “Carry Each Other’s Burdens.” Nobody wants to fight a battle alone, but we let them do it far too often and make way too many excuses for doing it, too. We need to stop judging and gossiping about others, especially those we don’t know or understand, and help them instead of given them trite answers that mean nothing.
It’s time to stop . . .
And if we genuinely don’t care . . .
It’s time to stop calling ourselves Christian.
Photo credit here
Moses sent Joshua to fight against the Amalekites. Then he, along with Aaron and Hur, went to stand on top of a hill overlooking the battlefield. As long as Moses prayed with his hands held up, the Israelites would gain ground and win. However, whenever he lowered his hands, they began to lose.
Have you ever stood with your hands lifted up for any extended time? It is tiring. Your arms become heavy and your hands begin to feel tingly. Imagine Moses standing with his hands held high and then lowering them as he struggled under their weight. He couldn’t do it. He needed help, so Aaron and Hur placed a stone for Moses to sit on. Then they held up his hands—holding them steady until the sun set and God granted the nation of Israel victory.
How many times have you tried to fight a battle by yourself? You…
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I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had a mother who, while not perfect, loved the Lord with all of her heart, mind, and soul, and taught me about Jesus Christ from the time I came out of her womb. She was born in 1928, married at 19, bore three children (me and my two brothers), was divorced in her mid-30’s, and never remarried. She died from complications caused by diabetes in 1983 at the age of 54.
My mother was poor by society’s standards but rich in ways that don’t even compare with any material standards that this world offers. It was because of her love for the Lord that I came to know Him personally as my Savior and Lord at the age of ten. Her life was not easy and her struggles intense at times, but she rarely failed to start every morning meeting with the Lord, reading from her favorite devotional booklet (Our Daily Bread), underlining verses in her Bible that specifically spoke to her, and praying, especially for her children. She wasn’t perfect–none of us are–but right up until her death, she knew her life was in the hands of God.
The foundation that was laid by my mother when I was very young has been a part of my life all of these years–in the best of times and the worst of times. I still miss her very much, yet she is still a part of me. One of her favorite verses is 2 Samuel 22:31: “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.”
Success in our culture, many times, is defined by our outward trappings–materialism, prosperity, successful careers, and the list goes on. But success is not defined by what we have. True success is having a humble heart and serving God through Jesus Christ in whatever circumstances He brings into our lives. Hebrews 11 is the great “hall of faith” chapter in the Bible and it is written to give us encouragement to press on in faith by giving us so many examples of those who have gone before us and paved the way. The last two verses of Hebrews 11 states: “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (vv. 39-40). “Something better for us” came through the life, death, and resurrection of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. If you don’t know Him, you can learn about Him by reading the Gospel of John.
I was reading a short devotion this morning in “Open Windows,” a small devotional booklet published by Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. The title of the devotion for today (July 25, 2012) is “Incomparable!”:
God is incomparable! Man lights a “great white way”; God lights the Milky Way. Man erects a 100-story skyscraper; God fashions a towering redwood and a mountain peak encircled by a halo of clouds. Man paints a landscape on canvas; God paints a landscape on every horizon. Man built the Seven Wonders of the World; God created the world. Look at God. Consider what He has done. God does it so much better.
God challenges us to compare whatever we want with Him. The effort is fruitless; nothing can stand against Him. Everything dims in comparison. God is bigger. He is better. He is stronger. He is longer. He is taller. He is incomparable!
We, the created, are silly to think we can make anything that can compare with the Creator. We will always come up short. We hold no candle to God. He is God. We are not. That fundamental fact gives us comfort. Nothing is beyond Him, nothing can overpower Him, nothing can confuse Him, nothing can distract Him, nothing can beat Him. Aren’t you glad He’s on your side?
Father, Your incomparable nature humbles me yet soothes my troubled heart.
God is sovereign, and He is sovereign over everything that happens in our world. As Isaiah 40:25-31 states:
“To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
“Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God’?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
I find great comfort in knowing God is in control of our world. He is ever present to bring us comfort in the hard times–those times that come into our lives when we feel out of control and helpless. For those who trust in Him, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). As I look back over these past three plus years in my current struggle with long-term unemployment and all of the challenges it brings, He has been my refuge and help during this time. Had I not experienced it first hand, I never would have known just how much He cares and how willing He is to give us everything we need when we need it–although many times it is not in the way we expect. I expected Him to provide me with another job (which would have taken care of my needs from my limited perspective), but He had something else in mind . . . something far greater. He wanted me to clearly understand that He is the source of everything, and that His ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).
If you are struggling with something right now and you don’t know where to go or how to find help, turn to Jesus Christ who says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30). He is waiting to help you.
The Lord is not slow
in keeping his promise,
as some understand slowness.
He is patient with you,
not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to repentance.
~2 Peter 3:9
YouTube Video: “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” sung by Mahalia Jackson:
Photo credit here