13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. James 5:13-16a
In the very first verse, we see the point that James is trying to make. It is his thesis for the rest of his conclusion. In all things. God. He puts suffering against praise for a very good reason. A heart that is truly centered on God will automatically default to God in any situation. Another main theme in James is individual Godly character. Individual Godly character contributes to a Godly community. While suffering can cause us to feel alienated from God, abundant blessing can equally alienate us from Him by allowing us to believe that we don’t need him. James gives us a quick reminder that no matter how life is going, we need to keep God at the center.
I think a great deal of physical and spiritual healing is being missed in our church because we are not perceived and a safe place for people to land. In many cases, the last place people will go for help for their brokenness is to a church and I don’t blame them. Why do bartenders hear more true and honest confession than most church leaders?
We will find more in common through our losses than we will in our victories. Not all of us will be wealthy, but we will suffer the loss of a loved one. We have all had a broken heart, if you haven’t, wait. Ironically, it is in our brokenness that find unity and solidarity. I think it is because brokenness is a place where jealousy does not exist. I have never looked at a person who is suffering and said, “Man, I wish that would happen to me.” But I do need to say, “How can I enter into their brokenness to offer the hope that they desperately need?”
The church is not a collection of individual believers, it is a body of believers unified with one purpose: To pursue Christ. As a community we can lead one another on to greater expressions of obedience than we could ever achieve on our own as individuals. We can also lead one another to greater levels of personal and spiritual healing than we ever thought possible as well.
Do you see the church as a safe place to take both your victories and struggles? If not, why?
Are you the kind of person that others can come to for loving acceptance, healing, and spiritual care? If not, what needs to change?
In what ways do you see other church members as helpers in your spiritual development?
How can we as the church create an environment where people can not be afraid to fail?