Spiritual Rumination by Julia Phillips

“Is there any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.”

James 5:13

 

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2

 

“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”

Romans 8:3-4

 

This winter has been difficult in many ways. We have lost dear friends far too soon. I have personally spoken to many community members who have suffered terrible losses. This global pandemic has affected so many and is causing changes in our lives — many which we must actively choose to resist as Christians and Americans. If there has ever been a time when we must be praying with all our might, in faith, it is now. We must not lay down or closet our swords, the Bible, the living Word of God.

The Day of the Lord is truly coming sooner than we may have first believed, and the “straight and narrow way” is becoming even more narrow and tight. As the community of believers in our land, Delta Junction, Fort Greely, and the surrounding areas, it is critical that we put our doctrinal differences aside and come together as the “ecclesia,” the called out ones, to help bear one another’s burdens and agree in faith and in prayer for help in these times of acute need. If not, what good are we to one another and to the untold numbers of neighbors and friends who are experiencing these attacks and who may not yet have the knowledge of the Everlasting Arms, along with His consolation and comfort? We must grasp we are one body.

I watched a show on the National Geographic channel two nights ago about flash floods. There was a young woman caught in the grip of a tremendous flood while in her car. One man jumped in to rescue her and was quickly snatched and pulled down by the flood waters. He returned, desperately trying to figure out a way to rescue the woman. Suddenly he had an idea. There were many people watching and praying for this woman to live. They gathered and locked arms, forming a human chain which was able to reach the car. The same first man was able to persuade her to come out of the window into his arms. She was successfully pulled to safety just as her car was violently swept away under the raging waters.

 Immediately I thought of the Body of Christ, and how we each, as individual members, provide our part to edify the Body as a whole. We must lock arms and not follow this new ideology of isolation and socialism. We must remember who and whose we are and stand together against the wiles of the enemies of our souls and of Christ. No man is an island to himself. I need you, and you need me. Saints shake yourselves and wake up out of the lukewarm, faithless, self-centered relationship you may have walked in years past. I am shaking with you. I do not want anything that is not like Him left clinging to my vessel. I am sure you feel the same.

Sometimes people don't want to change or listen to counsel or to the incredible love and power Jesus Christ has made available to them in and through His promises. Why? Have they experienced painful disappointments in the past? Has someone or some church let them down? In Jesus' name let us pray together for those offenses and roadblocks to be healed. 

When we each stand before the Throne of God, I do not think being right, or vindicated is going to cut the mustard. Jesus, wake up your sleeping church. His Word says He is shaking all that can be shaken, leaving only those whose works are lasting, true, and in His Will. “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered: let them also that hate Him flee before Him.” Psalm 68:1.

This is definitely a time when each of us needs to have a brother or sister in the faith in whom we can confide. Thank God for those who allow us to just open up and let it all spill out, without fearing it will be front-page news the following day or will be followed by a comment such as, “I can't believe you just said that! Repent and pull yourself together.”

Unless you have personally walked in another’s shoes, you have no idea the history or the root of what may be causing the comment, behavior, or the pain. Last week I wrote on the command in James 5:16: “Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” I experienced that personally this week. 

I had been battling a fault, a sin, and I confessed it to a sister in the Lord. I wish I could put into words how awesome and powerful those healing tears were. They flowed from deep within. Only God, the Holy Spirit in another, is capable of understanding and comprehending the intricate feelings or grief another might be feeling. And a sin or fault does not have to be something huge. Sin is missing the mark. Anything that prevents or distracts us from the narrow path.

So, what can you do? How about a hug? A smile? A shoulder? Most of all, how about availability and fervent, steady, faith-filled intercession on another’s behalf? Or possibly a little financial help? Try not to mutter to yourself, “Why does it always come down to money?” 

Well, friend, I can tell you from personal experience that many of the afflictions, trials, and fires people walk through often are accompanied by great cost to all members involved. Greater still is the fruit from your obedience, the love they feel. It is a lasting hope that speaks somebody cares. It reminds another they are not alone. God knows! Yes, it will make a difference. So would a pot of soup or plowing a drive. We must get to the place where we truly grasp the meaning of being our brother’s keeper. We will never make a difference and heal many of the misunderstandings and offenses that have caused so many to flee rather than be drawn to the Lord if we fail to love our neighbor as ourselves.

I know my prayer life has never been as strong as it is now. But there’s always room for growth. What changed my zeal for prayer? One night, many years ago, during the night my husband and I received a call from a frightened mother requesting prayer for her young toddler who had developed a fever of 104 degrees.

I woke up my husband and we laid there in bed and prayed, “Jesus, we lift up little “Johnny” to you and ask that you would heal him and bring peace to his mommy. Touch him Lord. We rebuke this fever in Jesus Name and ask for rest for the entire family. Amen.”

Within minutes we were curled back under the covers prepared to enjoy the remainder of our nights’ sleep. It was then I heard the gentle, still small voice of the Holy Spirit say to me, “Daughter. Is that what you call prayer? What if this little one was yours or one of your grandsons?” There was no condemnation. Just a lesson, an opportunity for growth.

I jumped out of bed and went into the living room, wide awake and engaged, and continued praying fervently for that family. I got on my knees. I repented for my lukewarm, lazy attempt at prayer earlier. I stayed on my knees praying all the healing scriptures I could for this little child of God. I called the mom and prayed and consoled her, offering to come and help with the other kids. I think I ran a thermometer to her.

By the time I went to bed all it had cost was a few hours of sleep. But I gained a priceless lesson of just what it meant to help bear one another’s burdens. I learned more about tenacity, giving, loving, reaping and sowing, and true Christianity that night than I had through dozens of structured Bible studies or sermon tapes. 

We are His hands, His feet, and His voice to those among us who are feeling “the squeeze” at that hour in their lives. When you yourself are suffering through affliction or loss, the best thing you can do is turn and extend a hand or a heartfelt gesture to another in their pain. It is a principle in God's Kingdom. It is our calling, our responsibility, our purpose, and our blessing.

James 5:13 says, “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.”

The word “afflicted” is the Greek word “kakopatheo,” a compound of the words “kakos” and “pathos.” “Kakos” describes something that “is evil.” It is so evil, difficult, or oppressive that it produces negative effects in a person's life. It is defined further by “something hurtful; damaging, such as a terrible illness or event.” The word “kakos” is translated as “disease” or “sick,” including the devastation that follows such events. It also refers to a person who is harassed by a problem that is weighing them down and producing potentially devastating effects in their lives. 

The second word, “pathos,” is translated as “suffering.” Though it can mean physical suffering, and it also refers to “a suffering that occurs in the mind.” It refers to someone who is greatly affected by something that has happened or is happening in their life, causing them to suffer mentally or emotionally. It is where we get our word “pathology,” getting to the root cause of an affliction. 

The word “pray” here is the Greek word “proseuche” which describes a person speaking their wishes, desires, or vows toward God. This word “proseuche” tells us that prayer should bring us close, face to face with God. This prayer is not a formula or a mechanical act, but rather a vehicle that brings us to a close, intimate meeting with God Himself.

Soon we will see new buds on the trees, and new life springing up everywhere. Why can’t this be a time for new life to appear in us? Oh friends, the darkness is getting darker. But God says when that happens the light will grow brighter. And light dispels darkness, not the other way around. Ruminate on how you can be the change agent in someone’s circumstance today. Remember, it need not take a lot of time or money — just a gesture of love that says, “I care.” Do you care?

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:17.

“Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4.

Enlarge your horizon. The harvest is ripe, but the laborers are few.

Ruminate on that.