Commiserate. This word comes to us from two Latin words. It means to “lament with”. Commiserating happens when we walk with each other through our struggles. Have we really thought about how important walking together through struggles is?
Paul shares with the church in Corinth that –
“We had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope.”2 Corinthians 1:9-10 (NASB)
Sometimes we are tempted to circle the wagons when struggles come. There can be a temporary blessing when we do that. We marshal our forces, we push hard against the struggle. We are undistracted in our tackling the struggle. However, the blessing is temporary. The positive effects of circling the wagons diminish quickly the longer we stay secluded. As Solomon observes in Ecclesiastes –
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NASB)
The Scripture encourages us to walk together through our struggles. Why is that? I see a few reasons:
1. Walking together means that when we are discouraged, there is someone there to remind us of the truths that give us hope. God has shared with us His promises. They aren’t secrets. However, in struggles it can become hard to remember those struggles because we are in the midst of emotion and stress. Those walking with us can remind us of what our emotions make difficult to remember.
2. Walking together allows us to pray for one another, cry with each other, and rejoice when storms pass or situations change. There is great value in having people around who will do this for and with us. Loneliness is a profound effect of struggling. Knowing that others walk with us remind us that we are not alone.
3. Walking together prevents us from falling into destructive thinking about our struggles. We say that experience is a good teacher. Experience is an effective teacher. However, it is not always an accurate teacher. We can start to believe wrong things because of our experience. Suffering can drive bitterness into our hearts. Struggles can make us feel unloved or unlovable. These things are not true. A faithful believing companion can help us learn the true lessons of our struggles and not just the destructive thoughts that come to us in the low valleys. Paul declared that his struggles drove Him to trust but in God who raises the dead. Why did tell the Corinthians that? He did so because that’s what Christians do for one another. Faithful believers point one another away from the thoughts that would destroy our faith toward the One who is our faith!
4. Walking together gives us opportunities to share the comfort and strength that we have received from Jesus with those who are at the beginning of their struggles and vice versa. When we walk together we share. We don’t just share our struggles. We also share our comfort. We share what we have learned, and we share the questions we had during the struggles. When the sharing goes both ways, we discover how much we are all in this life together. We are not alone. We are not the only one who has struggled. The way we struggle and the questions we face during the struggle is a road others have also walked. With others, we are able to both give and receive the presence of Jesus.
That sounds like we have a lot to give one another, doesn’t it?! No wonder the Scripture encourages us to walk together. It isn’t just about struggling, but our struggles are certainly part of walking together. If such a resource is available to me, I don’t want to let it pass me by. I want to walk with others so that I can both receive and give that glorious presence of Jesus and experience Him with my family of faith.
Something to think about,
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