Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. (Philippians 1:14)
It sometimes seems to us that there are two kinds of Christian: those who when asked, "How are you?" will always answer, "Fine!" and those who are more honest and who will sometimes say, "Well, actually, I’m struggling." Which are you?
All of us face difficulties of one kind or another – relationships, health, finances, for example; but the question is, what do we do with our difficulties and how do we relate them to our Christian faith? Either we can pretend that everything is going swimmingly and hide our problems; or we can be more realistic and acknowledge them.
If we continue along the first road, our faith may eventually collapse when reality at last hits home; but if we go down the second road, we’re like the people Paul refers to in today’s reading. Most of the brothers (and sisters!), he says, were courageous; but that presumably meant, not all of them were! There were some who weren’t so confident – perhaps like the disciples after the resurrection who "when they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted" (Matthew 28:17). Some doubted! In other words, they were real about their struggles.
So here’s an encouragement to us today to be real with Christ in our lives. Whenever Martin finds it difficult to pray, or when he feels he’s just not in the right spirits, he begins his prayer by telling the Lord just that. We can take our doubts and feelings to Jesus and discuss them with Him. (If we can be sexist for a moment, we would have to say that women are much better than men at opening up about what is really going on in their lives!) But here is an encouragement to us all (men and women!) to be honest and open before the Lord. And remember, too, that it can be a great help to share our struggles with another trusted friend, who can often be God’s gift to encourage us and help show us the way.
Today, be real – with God and with others; for being real is a key part of experiencing the promises of God.
Pour out your feelings to the Lord, as you would pour water out of a jug. (Lamentations 2:19, CEV)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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