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Building relationships

It’s been a beautiful summer thus far, but it seems as though this year has been filled with far too much bad news. There have been a number of people diagnosed with cancer, others who have died suddenly and still others who have had to deal with family and relationship situations that have all but devastated them.

As a pastor, I often see situations nobody should ever have to go through alone. No one should ever have to wait in the hospital while a loved one is in life-or-death surgery. No one should ever walk through the minefield of cancer alone. No woman should ever have to wait alone for the lab report on a problem pregnancy or an abnormal breast exam. No one should ever have to wait for news from a battlefield alone.

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. And no one should ever be alone having just lost a loved one.

Life’s tough times and tragedies are inevitable – each of us will face them. But, we don’t need to go through them alone. Let me remind you of God’s promise.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you cross rivers, you will not drown. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned, nor will the flames hurt you. This is because I, the Lord, am your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:2 & 3)

That’s a great promise. But, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty for a moment. The promise of God’s presence is truly wonderful, but we still want someone “with skin on,” too, don’t we? And truly, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

See, God knew we’d want that, too, which he designed us for relationships. Have you ever wondered why people who live a reclusive lifestyle tend to be a bit “strange?” It’s because their lives are lacking relationships. We were wired for relationships.

Those relationships become even more important when we find ourselves going through difficult times. Face it, we need each other. That’s why the Bible gives us some instructions:

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15)

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 you’re going through a crisis, you don’t want advice; you just want somebody to be there – to sit with you, hold your hand, put an arm around your shoulder or cry with you.

Here’s another verse:

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

As a pastor, I’ve spend many hours in waiting rooms, hospital rooms and funeral homes. Years ago, I would concern myself with having “the right thing” to say.

But, here’s what I’ve learned: encouraging someone else doesn’t always mean giving a pep talk or words of wisdom. Sometimes, the best kind of encouragement is just sitting in silence – waiting and weeping with a friend.

I hope you have a safety net of people and relationships you know you can count on in life’s toughest times. If not, let me encourage you to go out today and begin building those friendships. The hard times in life are inevitable, and you don’t want to find yourself going through difficulty alone.

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