Relationships are the basis of everything in the kingdom of God. They are a good thing….and are God arranged…He gives grace for them. It’s been a rich experience to dive into the deep end of the relationship pool. However, mixed in with the delicious fun stuff….the laughter, sharing triumphs, the joy of watching advances in other lives…is the potential grief of seeing their chaos, failure, disappointments and other hard things.
When we became parents, for instance, we signed on for all the joys of that…and all the sorrows too. The same is true of every other relationship in which we find ourselves. I think it’s also good and is part of God’s plan to make us more and more like Him….in how we see the world around us.
“And the LORD said: ‘I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.’ “ (Exodus 3:7)
“He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3a)
Everything in me wants to, at times, recoil from the pain of being a part of this aspect of those relationships. Is it not true that we practice them well because we are tender toward those with whom we share relationship? It is this very same tenderness which also makes us vulnerable to be hurt by their sin, failure, chaos and, even, their occasional rejection of us.
I have learned, as I am sure you have, that this part of those relationships is worth it. The risk we take when we open our hearts to another like that is not just the risk of feeling even intense pain….but also the “risk” of experiencing the joys of the relationships…but, even more importantly, the “risk” of becoming more Christ-like. Every disappointment and every agonizing event is a death and, therefore, is an opportunity to see a resurrection – and experience one for ourselves.
Those in close relationship with Jesus experienced the horror of watching Him be tortured to death. This was followed by the unspeakable joy of seeing Him walk as One resurrected and fully alive. As we witness the bad things that happen in the lives of those we love in these God-ordained relationships, WE die and when they learn and grow…or, better still, when we cast ourselves into the arms of Jesus to carry us through our pain when those things happen to people we love, WE experience resurrection life too. We get to experience that, in a way, whenever we practice these God-ordained relationships fully…which means being vulnerable to the joys AND the sorrows. It means being vulnerable to Jesus in regards to those relationships.
This means that, at times, we find ourselves in emotional pits. It costs to love other people. But it’s good. All the good stuff costs something.
When we find ourselves in those pits we have an opportunity to reach out to the others with which we are in relationship for their consolation, prayer and help. It seems to me that the humility intrinsic to doing that is healthy for everyone involved – especially when we are in any kind of authority. I believe it is good for our weakness to be apparent. It helps others to know that they aren’t alone in THEIR weaknesses and when we reach out to them it helps them see a way to tap the strength of Jesus through others. When we are weak we truly ARE strong (2 Corinthians 12:10b). So, it’s all good.
My encouragement, then, is to look around and ask the Lord to point out the various relationships that we are in so that we can recognize them as such, ask which are not His will for us to be in (sinful ones, etc.) and then release ourselves from those, ask what relationships He has for us that we have failed to recognize or enter into and then fully participate in those He has for us.
My encouragement is to fully harvest God’s grace for those relationships in which He would have us. Let’s get all He has for us to be able to bring good things to these relationships and to withstand the downsides to them so that we can fully harvest the blessings He intends through them for the people involved…and for us.
My encouragement is that we have what it takes for these relationships because God has arranged them and God has supplied.
My encouragement is to feel all the joy and all the sorrows that come with these relationships because when it is all done we will have lived a real and full life for our King. That’s good stuff.
It is worship.
“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1 – NASB)