Not too long ago I had the opportunity to gather with eight women from our home Bible study. We were gathering on a Saturday evening to spend some time in the Word, to encourage one another, and to discuss how God uses trials in our lives to draw us to Himself, to refine us, and to make us more Christ-like. We all arrived together, shared some delicious dinner, oooh’d and aaah’d over the little babies who were present with us, and then sat down to have some informal conversation.
What happened next was fascinating. I shared with the ladies the trial that anemia has been in my life for the past eighteen months. I shared my propensity to become down (I even used the other ‘D’ word – depressed – as despised as any four-letter word in the church) because of my constant lack of energy, my weight gain, and my sadness at having little joy in the beautiful, blessed life God has given me. It was the first time I had shared this trial with these women – my sisters in Christ. I cried. I actually wept at one point and was unable to continue talking.
As we moved around the circle of women, the ladies shared the trials and difficulties they were experiencing at the time. One woman lamented her teenage son’s disobedience and turning from the faith of his parents. One woman shared her recent struggle with painful physical maladies which led to her being short-tempered with her husband and children. One longing to hold a baby and unable to conceive. One struggling with returning to work after the birth of her firstborn. One watching a strong, godly father slip into the darkness of Alzheimer's. All felt the painful sting of sin in their lives. All desired lives marked by obedience and contentment. All longed for a closer walk with their Savior. With our Savior.
I had no idea that these women were suffering, just as they were in the dark about my suffering. A new member of our group – new not only to the group, but also to our marvelous faith – spoke with me afterwards. She wanted me to know that she was so encouraged by our honest sharing, because she felt as though she was the only one struggling with sin in her life. We all looked like we had it “all together,” she said, and she was starting to wonder what was wrong with her.
Shame on us.
Shame on us, broken sinners saved by glorious grace, dead souls resuscitated by the life-giving blood of Christ, for having the audacity to act like we’ve got it all under control. How dare we put on airs among our brothers and sisters? Those who share the same Father? The same inheritance? The same miraculous rebirth from the ashes?
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Sisters, let us not discourage those around us by putting on a holy show. Let us not demean the miraculous work Christ has done in us by refusing to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is STILL at work in us, purifying us and making us more and more like Christ, with each trial, each stumble, and each tear. It is the filthy sin of pride waging war within us that drives us to act as though we are above struggling, above difficulties.
Let us love one another by being honest. Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. And, dear sisters, allow others to weep with YOU and rejoice with YOU. It makes our walk along this sanctification path all the more rich, when we allow others to stroll with us occasionally.