The Words to Say
This should not be breaking news to anyone, but we live in a broken world. If you watch the evening news, scroll Facebook feeds, or go out in public for more than ten minutes than you know this is true. However, you don’t have to go into the world to see brokenness. You can even leave your television off and see the effects of the fall.
The ripples of the fall can be seen through gathering with God’s people. It doesn’t take long digging deeply into one another’s life in community until you see the marks of Adam’s first sin. Simply put, the rebellion of one man has left the rest of humanity in ruins. Every one of us daily feel and see the brokenness in our world. Not only that, but every single person is longing for redemption to come.
The question we need to ask is not “Are we broken people?” We all know this to be true. The question is “What do we do with the brokenness?”
Sin or Suffering?
The first way to mend the brokenness is by diagnosing the struggle. This comes from walking in community together. We have to be sharing life together so we can watch one another, ask questions, and listen to help diagnose and understand the struggles.
For most believers who are hurting, the struggle usually falls under two different categories: the struggle of sin or the struggle of suffering.
Those struggling with sin are those who are still battling with indwelling sin.
Indwelling sin is the present battle with sin that takes place in the life of the believer even after he has been justified by faith in Jesus Christ. All believers continue to struggle with sin. All believers will be at war with sin until the day that they die. In fact, the Bible says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” (1 John 1:8). While indwelling sin is found in the life of every believer, it takes on different forms. Some believers struggle with sins of the tongue like lying, gossip, or slander. Others struggle with relational sins like disunity, rivalry, anger, and forgiveness. Yet, other struggles lie underneath the surface still raging war in their hearts like pride, lust, jealousy, or discontentment. All of these sins can do destruction to the hearts of believers if they are not fought with repentance and faith.
The other struggle is the struggling with suffering.
Suffering is something that should not surprise any believer. In fact, the Bible speaks about suffering being God’s will (1 Peter 4:19), about it being a gift (Phil 1:29), and how it prepares us one day for future glory (2 Cor. 4:17). For those who act like the Christian life is easy and painless, they need to take a second look at the Scriptures. Suffering takes many forms in the life of believers. Maybe a brother has been battling a chronic pain in his back for decades. Another sister suffers with an emotional battle through losing a loved one. For others, the suffering might come through being mocked for following Christ. While suffering can sometimes be a consequence to that individual’s sin, it is always consequence of the fall and needs redemption.
Speak the Gospel
Once we see the diagnosis clearly, what do we say to a struggling brother or sister? Do we leave them to suffer alone? Do you tell them “don’t worry, be happy”? Do you push them with “do better, try harder”? All of these have been tried and found wanting in the body of Christ. So, where do we turn?
What our brothers and sister need is to hear the gospel again . . . and again . . . and again. Here is how we share it with our hurting faith family:
1. Remind them that they are changed.
Though we face struggles of various kinds we need to remember that we are not who we used to be. We have been made “a new creation” in Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17). God has “made us alive together with Christ. . . and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places”, (Eph. 2:5). Things have radically changed since Jesus rescued you. You are not who used to be which changes how we should fight sin and how we now endure through suffering.
2. Remind them that they are being changed.
A lie of the devil is that the struggles of this life are meaningless and that God is powerless to overcome them. The truth is that God is doing more in the struggles of life than we can even imagine. Every sin repented of and every suffering endured can be used as a tool by God to make us more like Jesus. There is no meaningless or purposeless struggle for the believer. Let us remind one another that God is not through with us yet, but he is using the daily battles here to make us like his Son.
3. Remind them that they one day will forever be changed.
One of the hardest thing about struggling with sin or enduring suffering is feeling like it will never come to an end. We need to remind one another that there is a day that is coming when God will say “Behold, I am making all things new.” There is a promise to cling to that “he who began a good in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ,” (Phil 1:6). This is good news because there is light at the end of the tunnel. Sin will one day be vanished forever, suffering will be wiped away, and God will dwell forever with his changed people.
Even though we live in a broken world, we are not a hopeless people. We serve a God who has redeemed us, is redeeming us, and who will one day finish this work when Jesus returns. Until then, let us not be stingy with the good news. Preach the good news to you own heart and to every heart that is longing for their redemption to be complete.
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