What is your first response to pain?
In the span of just one week, several of my close friends experienced heavy losses. One friend was betrayed by someone close to her. Another dear friend was faced with the emotional pain of feeling unloved in primary relationships. When a third friend broke her foot in a roadside accident on vacation, I spent a number of hours with her in the ER, hoping to relieve her physical pain.
In each case, my first response was compassionate action: I reached out as best I could with prayers and practical help.
I know for a fact, though, that when I am the one in pain, my first response is very different. When hurt increases, compassion vanishes. I have a new goal: avoid that pain at all costs!
Encouragement is a rare commodity. Strife and division abound in today’s culture, so much so that it seems things have never been worse. Even within the church, we find sharp divisions between believers over politics, doctrine, gifts, and personalities. Despite our call to love one another, Christians often doesn’t look much different from the world.
If the lack of encouragement and unity makes you wish Jesus would simply come and rapture us now, you might be surprised to know that two of the most respected leaders in the early Christian church encountered the same problem, just a few years after Jesus walked the earth! The source of their division was a man named John Mark.
Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You delivered them. They cried to You, and were delivered; they trusted in You, and were not ashamed.
There I was: eyes closed, hands raised, completely absorbed in the worship and the amazing spiritual atmosphere of the church. A powerful move of God had hit this place, and I was determined to press in and get my healing. Full of faith, I prayed in the Spirit. Others also prayed for me. The Presence of God was so strong in that meeting. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. And then...
Sometimes God plants difficult people directly in our paths in order to help us grow. Like thorns in our flesh, these people prick and poke at us until they rub us raw. We learn, painfully, that we just can’t live with them. We have to forgive them. If we don’t, we find that same kind of person further on down our paths, ready to prick us yet again.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.