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Friday, July 28, 2023

Do I Have a Safety Net?

In 1 Peter 3:8 it says, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” (NIV)

Nobody should ever have to go through alone. Nobody should ever have to wait in the hospital while a loved one is in life-or-death surgery. No woman should ever have to wait alone for the lab report on a high-risk pregnancy. Nobody should ever have to stand at the edge of an open grave alone. Nobody should ever have to spend the first night alone when their spouse has just walked out. 

Life’s tough times and tragedies are inevitable. Each of us will face thembut we don’t need to go through them alone. I need God’s safety net to help hold me up through difficult times.

What is God’s safety net? It is a group of other believers, a handful of people who are really committed to me. We call this kind of group a community. Here is God’s plan for the community: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26 NIV). Community is God’s answer to despair. 

Romans 12:15 expresses a similar idea: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (NIV).

The first part of that verse is easy. When something good happens to someone, it’s often easy to join in on the party. But when someone is having a tough time, it can seem more difficult. But, really, it’s simple. When going through a crisis, we don’t always want advice. We just want somebody to be there to sit with you, hold your hand, put an arm around your shoulder, or cry with you

As Paul tells us, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV). Encouraging someone doesn’t always mean giving a pep talk or words of wisdom. Sometimes the best kind of encouragement is just being present, sitting in silence, and weeping with a friend.

Do I have a safety net—a group of fellow Christians I know who I can count on in life’s toughest times? Honestly I have to say I don’t. What I need to do today is to begin being intentional about building those friendships. The hard times in life are inevitable, but I don’t have to go into them unprepared.

Group Bible study or a ministry team is one thing, but being part of a community requires what Peter lists as five key elements that should characterize any group of fellow believers: (1) one mind, pursuing the same goals; (2) sympathy, being responsive to others' needs; (3) love, seeing and treating each other as brothers and sisters; (4) tenderness, being affectionately sensitive and caring; and (5) humility, being willing to encourage one another and rejoice in each other's successes. These five qualities go a long way toward helping believers serve God effectively.

As I admitted above, I don’t really have someone who is part of my safety net. I need to begin being intentional about building those friendships.