Platitudes can be absolutely infuriating when you are in pain. And, usually, a person in pain hears things like “Oh, just trust God” or “into each life a little rain must fall” as uncaring dismissals of their very real heartache.
To be sure, most folks mean well, but deep in their own hearts they are afraid of getting too close to pain lest it capture them. Let’s face it, folks avoid pain. And for good reason. Pain hurts.
So, what are you suppose to do when you encounter someone in pain?
Chances are good that today, you will. Someone you see at the office, someone you run into at lunch, or maybe even someone in your own home is silently suffering. Or maybe not so silently.
Listen to today’s Epistle Lesson: “Brethren, recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on the prisoners, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised. ‘For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry; but my righteous one shall live by faith.'” Hebrews 10:32-38
The path to endurance (notice I didn’t say “rescue from”) always passes through the heart and mind first. The temporary suffering of any moment is always an invitation to explore what is at the heart of your hope.
And this hope, this eternal perspective, sets me free from the tyranny of despair over the loss of anything temporary.
But notice what the Apostle reveals when he offers that after you realize you have a “better possession and an abiding one” he counsels you to “not throw away your confidence.” Even in that place of darkness and suffering, you still retain the control over whether you “throw away” your confidence or you keep it! Even when you feel powerless, you always have the power, the choice, the freedom, to hold onto you confidence and faith.
And when you hold on, you build spiritual endurance.
But even if you stumble and “throw away” your confidence, there is still hope, because you are never alone. Being a part of the Body of Christ means you don’t stand by yourself, but in the companionship of all the faithful through the centuries. That’s a mighty big family!
I never will forget sitting with one who was in such pain over a certain challenge in their life. This person confided in me that they had lost their faith. Their face was filled with amazement and wonder when I replied “Don’t worry about your faith, we will hold it for you until you come back!” That’s the power of the Church. You don’t have to endure by yourself. We believe, we love, we stand with each other. You are not alone.
Today, when (not if) you come across one suffering, be present to them and assure them they are not alone. They do not suffer alone. The Church, the Body of Christ adds endurance to their weakness, and hope to their despair. And if you are suffering today, know there is great power in holding on to your confidence, not in yourself, but in One Who has already defeated every enemy you will ever have.
Today, if you feel you must “throw away” your confidence, then throw it to the Church. We’ll hold it for you till you recover. And you will recover, because you are loved by Him Who is Love Himself.