Today was a tough day. Our youngest son Zack has been sick for a few days, and today he was having difficulty breathing. We took him to the doctor, and after two breathing treatments there was no improvement. His oxygen count was dropping. The next stop for us was Broward General Hospital. Further tests indicated that Zack has pneumonia. In a moment of pause, I called my mentor, Clark, and closest friends, Brian, Dan, Joe and Ken for prayer, encouragement and support.
God was gracious to meet me in my place of need with these awesome Christian brothers, bringing me to the focus of this month’s message: “Who do you go to when the going gets tough?”
To be sure, we must first go to God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. But we are never to stop there. The Bible knows nothing of the solitary saint. Every person God is so pleased to save is placed within the body of Christ, the community of faith.
As Steve Brown puts it, “Everyone who belongs to Jesus belongs to everyone who belongs to Jesus.”
Yet many people in the Church neglect one of the greatest gifts God has given to His people … the family of faith.
In 1 Peter 5:8 we read, Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
What is the first thing a roaring lion looks for when on the prowl? Without a doubt, the first target for the roaring lion is the one isolated and injured animal separated from the herd. He doesn’t go looking for his next meal in the middle of the herd. He prowls around the perimeter looking for the one who has wandered off from the safety and security of the group. The same is true for Satan and the saints of God. When Christians are separated from the body of Christ and cut off from the family of faith, they become the perfect target for the attacks of Satan.
Peter is providing us with one of the wisest warnings consistent throughout all of sacred Scripture: Satan seeks secluded saints! Just as the lion goes looking for the straggler, Satan goes looking for the secluded.
The wise preacher writes, Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
Here, Solomon is telling us that the Christian life is to be lived out in the context of community and companionship, not isolation and insulation. If you will think about this for a moment you will see that everything good in life happens in the context of community, beginning with our relationship with Jesus Christ and spreading out into His church.
Did you ever wonder why the Lord sent them out two by two?
In Luke 10:1 we read, After this the Lord appointed 72 others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.
If Jesus would have sent them out alone they could have expanded their reach by going to more places in less time, which seems to suggest an important biblical lesson: There is safety and strength in numbers. Without a doubt, our safety and strength comes from Almighty God. Yet, Jesus sent them out in pairs telling us that the Christian life is lived out in the context of community. Whether we are serving or suffering, we are not to do it in isolation. So, are you on Satan’s “hit” list because you are living in intentional isolation from the Body of Christ?
In Deuteronomy 1:38, God instructs Moses to “go and encourage” Joshua rather than sending an angel or meeting with him Himself. Why? Because God is pleased to use His people in the lives of His people for the purpose of encouragement and edification.
Charles Spurgeon once said, “A brother’s sympathy is more precious than an angel’s embassy.”
Today I received the benefit of this undeniable truth. The sympathy from five brothers today ministered to me in a mighty and miraculous way. It never ceases to amaze me how often God chooses to use ordinary means to minister to me in extraordinary ways.
As tough as today was, it was also a day of tremendous triumph. Within the fiery trial of a sick and struggling son, God was gracious to forge another link in the bond of brotherhood. Each of my friends thanked me for calling to share my troubled heart and said his phone would be on throughout the night. They said they were blessed to know I would bring them into my place of pain.
How sinful and selfish it would have been for me to have kept this time of trouble all to myself. We simply dishonor God and His perfect plan of community while robbing others of blessings multiplied when we live in intentional isolation. When the going gets tough, go to Him and your family of faith. Never forget that … Amen!
Rev. Tommy Boland is the minister of men’s and sports at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and teaches adult Sunday school. For more information including Bible study resource materials, please send an email to: [email protected] or [email protected].