Philippians 2:1-5 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
One might think that after five years, it would be like any other day. Countless doctor’s appointments and random testing would make it a scheduled event. It should come as no surprise yet it still produces the same punch in the gut reaction it did ever since the first blow. Scan day should be a day of celebration. The “look-what-the-Lord” has done moment when once again – I can share the wonderful news of our son’s victory over cancer. It’s not. Scan day is like a clock set to see how long I can hold my breath under water. The moment the test is completed until he gets the good report. During his treatment, the doctor would call me later that day or by the next morning. However, after two years of remission, it is generally within the week. This time it will be eight days. I cannot explain the emotion. It is not fear. It is not really anticipation. Just a waiting period that has its own place. Like a room in mind where I sit with thick walls to shut out the enemy’s voice and songs of the Spirit being pumped in – repeating every promise I have recorded in pursuit of life over death.
The text was brief. “Btw I have scans today. About to get my barium breakfast shake now.” That kid. I know he blames chemo brain for the lack of proper notice. He really doesn’t think much about it. He never worries about the outcome. Just arrives at the appropriate time, endure the nasty beverage and long scan, and then heads off to class or whatever his college schedule requires. Time stops for mom. He is the comforter who continues to persuade me everything is fine. My response is on guard. The wall goes up. The Spirit begins telling me the Truth. All my flesh wants to do is run home and crawl in bed pulling the mound of covers over my head. Are you ready to take cover? Has the last straw hit the camel’s back? Is your last nerve tweaked? Is frustration mounting? Fear knocking? The Comforter is calling and I don’t mean the bed.
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Yes, there is encouragement from belonging to Christ. He will absolutely comfort you with His Love. There is fellowship with His Spirit that will fortify our heart and weigh down confident hope. Is your heart tender and compassionate? How did God flip the script like that? I thought this was about me. I thought I was the one who needed encouragement, comfort, and fellowship with Him. Why must my heart be tender and compassionate? I am the one who is uncertain and must fully rely on Christ. Wait! There are others?
Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. We must have the same attitude as Jesus Christ did. He did not think twice about laying His Life down for others. In fact, that is exactly how He demonstrated unfailing love to us. Releasing His Spirit, I now have the Great Comforter to assist me through trials, troubles, hardship and heartbreak in life. These tests produce a soft heart in me for the Lord but should also mold me and shape me to give from this great resource that I have received. We must agree wholeheartedly with each other. Some people right? Not all people? There are some pretty awful, wicked, evil and rebellious people out there. Yep, it is our job to be agreeable with them as well. We must love one another. Not everyone though…yes, everyone even those perceived to be our enemy. Oh come on! We are to work together with one mind and purpose. Many Christians will limit this statement to the church but I believe that the Lord is working to expand our thinking concerning this passage to include all people. Religion will exclude one. Our relationship with Christ depends on including everyone.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. When scan day comes, I am challenged to maintain good graces. I don’t want to be short-tempered. I want to remain calm, cool and collected. I don’t want others to see my weakness and perceive it as a lack of faith. It’s not. No matter what the outcome is I know that God loves our son and will take care of him in all things. It doesn’t matter what the test reveals, we have a good report.
I need to exercise. I have considered a gym membership again. I have even been looking to purchase an elliptical to use at home. I have begun drinking more water and eating better. Yet, I still hate to exercise, but I like the results. Endurance is not the fun part of our relationship with Jesus but it is necessary for a healthy relationship and the ability to persevere to the end. Those who do will be saved. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life waiting on scan results to breathe again. The Lord teaches me to endure in each wait time. I am learning patience. I am beginning to understand (not necessarily like) God’s timing. There are so many variables in fighting the good fight of faith that have nothing to do with me. It is kind of ironic that my foray into the gym in the first place was to work out the stress in my mind when our son was in the midst of his cancer fight. After long visits to the hospital, I would hit the gym to work out my mind more than my body. However, my whole being benefited. This is truly the nature of God in our circumstances. He takes that thing with which we struggle that is deemed weakness. The Lord allows His Grace to empower us the moment it is surrendered to Him. My fat gives way to muscle in the gym just as my Spirit gives way to grace in weakness.
What in the world does this have to do with others? Well, it is hyped to be strong. I don’t believe that God gives His Toughest Battles to His Strongest Warriors. I believe there are battles for our faith each day and in every moment. The longer it is held the harder one must fight to maintain it. God doesn’t want us to be strong. It is weakness that His Power is perfect. When Christians project the façade of personal strength and the ability to overcome sin all by themselves, others are lost in the lie of perfection. It is not until we are willing to admit fault, falling and failure that our testimony can be of the unfailing love and amazing grace that was sufficient in picking us up again. It is at the end of self that Jesus shines in my life. I am weak. I am tired. I worry. I don’t always get it right. In fact, the more I know of Christ – the less I really know Him so the more I must seek Him. Everything and anything good gleaned of my life is Christ alone because I am just not that strong, good or right. It is in the moment of pure honesty, true repentance, crucified pride, total weakness and absolute failure that Christ shines through us as the One who is our Comforter. It is His Faithfulness that others need not my façade.
God operates in weakness. Christ comes to the broken. His Spirit comforts us and confirms His Love for us in such times and becomes the testimony that will comfort and encourage others. I don’t need the advice or opinion of those who claim to be strong. Give me the Truth that pulled the weakest through to victory. I need that Word in my life. It overcomes every lie. Lord, help us to be honest and humble before the watching world.
Matthew 26:38-41 (NLT) He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
As Jesus prayed pouring out His Heart to His Father, it is clear the anguish in His Words. He knew what must be done to secure us. He understood exactly what must be endured. He did it anyway. I share this passage today because I feel the weight of His Confession. “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.” In Psalm 94, the psalmist admits, “I am slipping…” I wonder if any of us would be so honest today. It doesn’t matter the condition, situation or circumstance that is producing the crushing weight upon you. What matters is that you trust the Lord even when you are “pressed but not crushed, persecuted not abandoned” or even “struck down but not destroyed.” Allowing the Lord to be your comforter, it is one quality that is promised in Isaiah 61. He will be our Comforter. He comes with purpose to encourage and empower us to comfort others. The beauty from our ashes is a tree of life to others. The ones who cannot see the Light of His Love at the end of the long hopeless tunnel they are journeying. The ones who need the hope that anchored our soul. The ones who need a mustard seed of faith to plant in their own life or even some respite according to the faith growing in you. We are to share His Unfailing Love that met us when we cried out to Him in weakness. Only the weak know the power provided in grace when we could do no more and He did it all in a moment. The ones who finally came to the place of “your will be done, not mine” and found inexpressible joy and perfect peace in surrender.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 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. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
There are days when I need to take cover. To wrap myself in the Promises of God and retreat to a quiet place for His Confirmation and Comfort. (Psalm 119:49-52) But in no way, shape or form should I ever go into hiding. It is not God’s Will for me to hide my scars, weaknesses or shortcomings but celebrate each victory when I overcome them with others. People don’t need know-it-alls, holier-than-thou’s, so-called-perfect people because they see right through the lie. People need the honest message of unfailing love and overcoming grace that meets us in our failures and brokenness. Unconditional love that really has no condition other than whosoever will let them come. Love covers a multitude of sin. The Lord really does heal our broken hearts. He gives us inexpressible joy in mourning and sadness. You cannot lead another to a place you have never been. You cannot offer them something you do not have. You cannot have God’s Grace in your own strength. You cannot discover unfailing love outside of total surrender. Let God use you. He doesn’t need you to repackage His Word or resell the Gospel. Just to live it. For real. Be real. Be honest. Be authentic. Really love others. Let God use every weakness today for His Glory. People need you. They are watching you. They are waiting for you. Whatever you are going through today in which you choose to trust the Lord and endure will provide the very thing you need to encourage and empower someone else in the next season of life. Share God’s Comfort today with someone else.
1 Corinthians 14:1-3 (NLT) Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them.