Have you noticed that when you feel discouraged and think that God doesn’t care about you or answer your prayers, or that your faith is meaningless, one of the first things you do is disconnect yourself from his people?
Being in church is a bitter reminder of God not paying attention to you and your needs. You don’t want others’ prayers. You don’t care about their encouragement or their advice. You want to be left alone. You turn inwards, and at some point, it feels so good to feel so bad, you don’t want anybody messing it up!
But instead of becoming self-absorbed in our troubles, let’s return to what is real. Satan, the devil, or whatever name you choose to call him, is a real enemy who intends to drive us as quickly and as far as possible from our Creator and Lord. That is his sole occupation, food, obsession—his entire plan. He never tires in the attempt to carry it out. This enemy wants us at all costs to sever connections with the people of God and to discourage us. He knows this connection leads back to God, the main source of healing and life. Leaving the company of other believers, he gets us where he wants us—to follow a path away from Jesus Christ.
Most of us instinctively seek solitude or the company of those of like mind and circumstance when we feel rejected by God. The last thing we want is to be around people who love God and delight in him. We prefer to be with those who are equally or even more resentful. You have probably discovered already that plenty of negative people are just waiting for you to join them. They appear in your pathway at precisely the right moment, as if it is all carefully planned and timed. It is.
But what we need are those who have been through the fire themselves and can guide us out of the consuming blaze. It is important to participate in the church family’s life and be in the company and knowledge of other Christians because our own personal thin slice of experience can’t give us the breadth of perspective we need. The believers’ family album of life events, not just our solo experience, puts things in the right framework. We need accountability and guidance to get back on the right track.
To be encouraged in our own hopes for rescue, we desperately need to hear how God has led each one out of their trials. Hearing their experiences and the positive things that happen to them—the rescues and restorations—are not just for their personal growth but ours, too.
It is through worshiping God, praying, and studying Scripture together that we stay strong and are encouraged in our faith walk. There’s an old (even outworn) analogy describing this. It is the image of the one coal getting separated from the center of the fire. All the coals stay hot together and keep one another from cooling off. But when one gets separated, it cools off and dies out fairly quickly. This is still a good illustration of the Christian’s spiritual life. God has designed things so we stay spiritually alive and healthy only when together. We can’t live a life of faith well without logging in with our church family.
Today, more than ever, find a church that adheres to the Gospel truths of Jesus Christ and encourage your family and friends to participate in the joyful, healing, and healthy life of faith. Let’s encourage each other every week, every day, as we keep the fire of faith alive in our hearts.
- Transform Any Obstacle into an Opportunity: A Conversation with Aaron Burke - September 19, 2023
- Do You Know Who You Are? Restoring Our Identity in Christ with Kat Vazquez - September 1, 2023
- Gone Fishing! - August 15, 2023