by Rick Warren — March 18, 2023
From Where is God When It Hurts
“Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2 (GNT)
If you allow it to, pain will deepen and mature your love for God and others because suffering helps you become sensitive to the suffering around you. Pain can turn the most self-centered people into sympathetic people.
When our son died, my wife and I knew that nearly a third of marriages where a child has died end up falling apart because people grieve in different ways and couples often don’t know how to handle it together. But Kay and I have grown closer since Matthew’s death. I’m more in love with my wife now than I was when I met her 50 years ago. I asked Kay, “Why do you think we made it when we are so different in every way?” She told me, “Because, even in our grief, we intentionally worked at strengthening our relationship, and we gave each other grace.”
Pain will draw you closer to other people if you’ll be honest with God, honest with yourself, and honest with others. One of the most significant ways you can experience this is with your small group or the group of friends who encourage you in your walk with God.
In a small group, when you take a risk and share when you’re in pain, it takes the level of fellowship to the deepest level.
There are four levels of fellowship in a small group. There’s the fellowship of sharing, where you talk about sports or what’s going on with your family. That’s the shallowest level, but there’s nothing wrong with sharing fellowship. But a deeper level of fellowship is studying God’s Word together. Then, when you serve together, that takes your fellowship even deeper.
But the deepest level of fellowship is what the Bible calls “the fellowship of his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10 CSB), when you suffer together as God’s family. Galatians 6:2 says, “Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ” (GNT).
What is the law of Christ? It’s this: Love your neighbor as yourself. The deepest, truest fellowship is showing up when people are in pain—when you do this for others and others do it for you.
When you are open about your pain and you enter into other people’s pain, then you will understand what real connection and fellowship are all about.