Today's post comes from Anita at Scattering the Stones
'And when they suffered, God suffered too;
And the messenger of His presence acted to save them.
Out of enduring love, compassion, and concern,
God Himself rescued them.
Through all those years long ago,
God picked them up and carried them through.'
Isaiah 63:9 (The Voice)
Today, are you tempted to wear a mask to hide your true feelings?
Is it a happy mask? You know the one, where your smile is stapled onto your face, and if you dare move your lips, the sheer weight of the sadness, pain, hopelessness, fear or the guilt you feel in your heart, will end up causing your face to plummet to the ground. If Jesus was to stand before you and look into your eyes, would He see an expression of joy that matched up with your carefully applied smile, or would they tell another story?
Being real with one another
In a world that encourages us to hide our true feelings, no matter where we are in our relationship with God, sometimes the truth we know in our hearts is affected by how we are feeling. Where we are travellers making our way along the journey set before us, there are many mountains we must climb and valleys to walk through. Sometimes that path can feel like it is littered with potholes of every size.
Life isn't easy! If it was easy we wouldn't have seen the tears shed by our Saviour, as God came in the form of man, to demonstrate His great love for us.
'My eyes are swollen with weeping, and I am but a shadow of my former self.'
Job 17:7 NLT
Pain is real, suffering is real, you only have to turn the news on the TV or pick up a newspaper, let alone talk to our friends and neigbours to know that many are suffering. I read a powerful post by Beth Moore the other day called - Big Sisters and Little Sisters, this post received almost 1,000 comments! Talking about real life issues, the daily battles that are affecting each of us; the battle in the spiritual realm being felt in daily life.
One of the enemies fiery arrows and great lies, is to make us feel that we are alone, through whatever we are going through. We often can't see how there may be thousands of others, struggling with similar issues that we do. Sometimes we just don't understand how anyone, including God, can truly know the true extent of how we feel, or worry about how other's will see us.
'My heart is troubled and restless. Days of suffering torment me.'
Job 30:27 NLT
When we are tired and our hearts are heavy from the burden of troubles, physical or mental pain, the very act of suffering tears at our heart, tormenting our minds and bodies. With the weight often becoming unbearable; hope often feeling very far away, wondering if we will get through it all. But there is great hope, we need to listen to the voice of our Saviour whispering to us, 'give Me your burdens' (Ps 55:22).
In the middle of the battle, it may feel like God has turned His head in the opposite direction, as though He has closed His ears to our pain; with our prayers seemingly left unanswered. We may be persecuted and struck down, but we will never be abandoned by our God (2 Cor 4:9) . We only have to read the book of Psalms to catch a glimpse of the process of suffering right through to songs of praise of God's glory, in the middle of the writer's darkest hour and the revelation of God's grace.
'I am suffering and in pain. Rescue me, O God, by your saving power.'
Psalm 69:29 NLT
If there has ever been a time that we need to be real with one another, to lift one another up in love as God intended, to our LORD who listens to the cries of our hearts, it is now!
We need one another; Jesus knew this, and demonstrated how real love should be.
Instead of judging and criticising one another, praise for our Saviour needs to be on our lips, reflecting Jesus to one another, as the Holy Spirit prompts us from within.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rom 8:31-39)
When the enemy likes to whisper into our brokeness that we are alone, that no one cares, that we can't get through this fiery trial, we need to speak out the words of truth to one another, that God will never leave us (Heb 13.5).
When we feel despair, not knowing where to turn, we need the body of Christ to shelter, encourage and mourn with us in our sorrow, for we have been adopted into God's family (Eph 1:5)
When we feel overwhelmed (Ps 55:1-2) our first call should be to the King of Kings. He who has recorded every day of our life (Ps 139:16) and every tear shed (Ps 56:8) in His book.
When we look to God for help though times of pain we are reminded to read the stories of the prophets in God's word, for strength and encouragement, of how God helped them in their struggles (Jas 5:10).
In our suffering, God suffers too
The powerful, life changing ministry of Jesus, speaks right into the heart of darkness; that tries to overwhelm us, to press us down and imprison us. Our Saviours light is there, for the enemy's darkness will not be able to extinguish the true light! (Jn 1:5)
When Jesus was suffering greatly with the knowledge that a friend was about to betray Him, handing Him over to his death, Jesus taught the disciples to love one another (Jn 13:34-35). As Jesus waited in the garden of Gethsemane, asking the disciples to watch and pray with Him (Matt 26.41), He felt alone in His time of need, abandonded by His friends, as their flesh was weak. As Jesus cried out to His Father, He wept, asking for the cup of suffering to be removed for Him, but also wanted the will of God to be completed (Mk 14:36).
Unless we take off that mask, risk being vulnerable with each other, and reach out to our Christian sisters and brothers, they won't know our need. We are many parts of one body, let us be the Church that God intended without walls, and reach out to those who are in need, providing encouragement and support.
'So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.'
Romans 12:5 NIV
In our weakness, there is great opportunity to be strong, as we depend on the One who knows our hearts, and everything we go through.
Power of prayer
Prayer is such an amazing gift! The more I spend time in prayer, the more I fall in love with it. Not only are we able to share our concerns, tears, pain, with our Creator, but it also draws us closer to Him as we present the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ to God. As we come together at the throne of grace.
Let us be real with one another. Let us pray for one another, and join together in prayer with our shields latched on to one another, keeping our eyes focused on the Author and Perfecter of our Faith (Heb 12:2).
'He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.
When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.'
2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT
Father we come together on our knees for one another,
please help us to be aware of one another's needs.
May we be aware of the prompting of the Holy Spirit, to pray for one another.
We praise you for all that you bless us with; we thank you for your mercy, and gift of grace.
For the sisters and brothers who are suffering, we ask for your love to surround them.
Where they feel alone, and don't know where to turn, may they know your comfort.
Where they are in great pain, may they feel your arms wrapped around them and know your healing touch.
Please raise us up to be your church to one another, to shine brightly for you in the darkness.
In our weakness, may we know your strength.
We pray for each sister or brother who leaves a prayer need here today, we thank you for each one of them. We join with them, we stand with them in their pain, and present their requests to you as the body of Christ.
Thank you Lord that you hear our prayers, we pray a blessing on each person who reads this devotion.
May Your kingdom come, Your will be done.
In Your name,
Today I invite you to share a need or if you are not comfortable with that - just your name, as God knows your needs.
Let's be on our knees for one another, and seek the face of our God together.
Let's be on our knees for one another, and seek the face of our God together.
Image © Nita Joy Designs