I have been studying John chapter eleven for a sermon that I will preach in the next few weeks. Mary and Martha were shaken by the death of their brother Lazarus and the conspicuous absence of Christ. These sisters have so many questions, and only Christ can answer them yet, all they have is to turn to are those who I like to call the “uncomforters.”
One of the things that struck me is that the people who you want around in a time of problems are never there and those that you do not want around are always there.
It is still is quite a picture how the comforters follow Mary and Martha around. They are like Job’s friends they are better at crying than counsel. I think most of us would have been better off born without the ability to have an opinion.
This waiting is the best and worst of times, yet we desperately need a period where we wait. It reveals if we are sincerely resting upon the Lord and leaning upon his promises or still looking to other people or things. For it is in that time when there is no answer, no light, no activity that faith is born, built and strengthened. Faith is always born healthiest as an only child.
Sadly, the longer people go through something, there is more opportunity there is for insensitive preaching, weird advice and bad counsel. People going through the pain are like the lame man who was in the temple that Jesus passed by many times. In Acts 3 Peter and John prayed for that man with empty pockets but full spirits and he was healed in the name of Christ.
The truth is that we see people in our church in pain with chronic issues and we are tired of looking at them, or we think they don’t “get it.” whatever “it” is. In reality we are the ones who do not “get it” and they definitely do not “get it.” So we give “it” to them anyway usually in the form of cheap spiritual advice. Look, if you cannot heal or help the problem people have, then it is better you throw them a few bucks or some “silver and gold” than talk them to death.
When people get around the religious cheerleaders, spiritual quacks and misguided guru’s people’s faith is confused and even paralyzed. When you are going through something you feel like moving to another state and changing your phone number. Everybody knows what you should do except you. You get around well-meaning people who treat you like a religious lab rat and experiment on you with all the latest and greatest stuff. We learn from Job that you can have people quoting the Bible to you and they do it wrong and have no wisdom. Even the best medicine administered in the wrong dose and at the wrong time can cause ill effects.
We should not intimidated by pain. Jesus never shied away from confronting pain with compassion. If you are breathing, walking and talking then God can use you by filling you with the Spirit of Christ as you just are there for others. Pain can make us a healing presence because God shows his tenderness and strength through us.
Love drives us to those in pain, because we have learned from experience that Christ is not intimidated by life’s problems. He stayed with us and strengthened us in our past trials. We know what hurt is. It hurts us to see them hurt. We are able to bring comfort to others in need because we have received comfort from the God of every comfort so we can comfort others. People who have not learned from their pain are uncomfortable.
The more pain the more comfort we receive. The comfort we receive the more we can give to others so they can patiently endure suffering (see 2 Cor. 1:3-7).
Today, instead of going to make something happen, or counseling people with some religious guesswork and theories we should just go with the love of Christ in our hearts so his loving smile and his healing presence could be felt by them through us.
© 2011 Stephen S. Gibney Soul Health Care
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