Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Suffering Silently

I just want to take a few minutes to address what I think has become a problem in our lives as believers, and maybe even a curse--the curse of silence.

One of the reasons that God placed us in a body of believers here on earth is because the body needs the ears, hands, and feet to carry out its task. The other reason along this line is that we need the body. The body is to be the safe place that we may encourage and be encouraged; strengthen and be strengthened; help and be helped; love and be loved no matter what. We are told to take refuge in the Lord, and the church is His body--a refuge for us. Ideally in the church freedom should exist to open up our lives to our brethren sharing our deepest fears, hurts, and needs. And the body to still embrace and care for us, and love us through difficult seasons. The hands of Christ will minister to us in times of need. And some churches are refuges...

But many churches are not. Some have an atmosphere that creates just the opposite; a place to hide your true thoughts and feelings, and a place to be very cautious about sharing life. Many feel that their pain will be the talk of the church or town in an unhelpful way. Many feel like they don't need the body's help. Many are afraid of what those in the body will think about them or their situation. They expect harsh judgmentalism, envy, disagreement, unloving rebuke, etc. Thus we have the curse of silent suffering.

We go through our problems alone when God has provide for us a support system; not so that we could make "unspoken requests," but so we can share our heartache with others. The body cannot help if it doesn't know...

That having been said, a couple of qualifications (you have to add qualifications to anything you say, so that as many people don't get angry) and warnings. QUALIFICATIONS: I realize that there are certain issues that would be better handled in private (but this doesn't mean alone). And I also realize that God wants us to come to Him first, and that sometimes we come in quiet, peaceful submission and patience alone. And I am aware that there are people that are so shy in their personality that this is incredibly difficult. But in general we don't share when we should.

WARNINGS: 1) forced intimacy is not helpful. Let's say in your small group or Sunday School class, you decide to begin by going around the room and asking people to share their deepest hurts...not helpful. If someone shares voluntarily, that's different. 2) If you are one who is overly judgmental, gossipy, self-focused, too busy, or uncaring about others, please spend some time with Jesus in the gospels and note how He ministered opposite to all these things to very difficult people. Ask God to hear your sincere prayer of repentance and change your heart. 3) If you are one of those that is overly sensitive, fearful, self-sufficient, or just simply unwilling, please know that the peace, comfort, and encouragement is far worth the risk. At least find one or two fellow believers in the church that you can truly trust to give you good counsel and an encouraging verse from the Word. And as we all do this, others in the same situations will benefit.

Thanks for reading...

1 comment:

  1. Yes, this is a symptom of the huge problem of individualism in our culture - a problem that has overtaken the church family, unfortunately. I'm glad that you approached this from both directions, both for those sharing their problems and for those hearing others' problems.