The Problem of Perspective on Problems
Pastor Toby is out of the office this week at the IFCA conference. Below is a reprint of his e-mail message from November of 2008.
Our church is chock-full of problems. I know people whose jobs are so difficult they don’t know how much longer they can make it. The impossibility of what they are expected to do drives them to the brink. Others can’t find a job and every day they are assaulted by thoughts doubting the goodness of God and their own self-worth. Some are enduring loneliness in silence and doubt they will ever experience the joy of a nurturing relationship. Others wonder if loneliness could be worse than the daily wounds that characterize their marriage. There are those who battle the daily pull of pain pills or porn, feeling like scum when they lose and exhausted when they win. We have problems with parenting, bitterness, control, anger, over-eating, laziness, gossip, materialism, flirting, pride and prejudice.
We have piles of problems and the sheer mass of them is naturally all-consuming. It can feel impossible to see or care about anything else. But that is a lie. We not only can lift our gaze beyond our battles, we must. In our pain, God reminds us that others too are hurting and that part of his care for us involves caring for those hurts.
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13:3)
Woe to the person who carries only his own pain. He will find himself crushed. God’s math says that making room in your heart for the plight of others will bring Light to your load and to theirs as well. So bring your employment dilemma to the Lord, but pray also for the man in Iraq who can’t get a job because he is your brother in Christ. Cry to the Lord for your marriage, and cry also for your sister in Turkey who is a widow because of their faith. As you pray in your loneliness, pray also for the Vietnamese pastor in solitary confinement. God will respond with grace and mercy enough to help us, and them, in our time of need.