How Can A Local Church Handle Hardships?
According to the text for our Sunday sermon, Peter suggests that humility is a key; we should humbly help one another resist the evil one.
Some hardships come from just being alive, but some hardships come from evil at work in our world, in our life, in our home. Sometimes it is not enough to just muster up more resolve, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and leave our hardships behind. Most of the time, someone needs to insert their hand into someone elses hardship, to offer them some grace, a new way of going about so that they can get a handle on their hardships.
But what do you do when the local church you are part of feels like it is going through hard times? What do you do when this is compounded by all the individual hardships that members are struggling with? With everyone wrestling with their own hardships, does that excuse everyone from helping one another? What if someone has a harder hard time, are they free from the responsibility of helping others with less hard hardships?
Peter suggests three positions that people find themselves in as part of a local church: the first is that of one who is older; if you are older than someone, you have a responsibility to help the one younger than you get through their hardships, no matter how hard your life is. Peter also suggests that if you are younger, and going through a hard time, you ought to put your hand up for help, and then take the help that is offered. Lastly, Peter calls out to everyone in the church: just put your hands out, clasp the hands of those around you and together walk through the hardships.
Many people wilt under their hardships, others whine that it isn't fair; and there are those who at some point just walk away when life gets too hard. But Peter insists there is something subversive, something potent about humility. Humility changes your posture, it is a conforming to the way of Jesus. His example of putting his hands out to help us is to inspire us, and model for us what we are to do for others, even amidst our own hardships.
Ultimately, one must decide how much to trust God for steadfast help, restoration, renewal of strength; when one puts your hand out to help, one must do so by the urging of the Spirit. When the Spirit prompts you to take your hand out of your pocket, put it in the hand of the one God has put in front of you; then lean hard on God's help as you wade through the hardships. A humble attitude towards those that make your life hard, towards those that you are helping, and towards those you suffer with...that seems to be a key towards helping a local church handle its hardships. Becoming more like Jesus always seems to be a good outcome of hardships. May that be so for Anchor.