I’m on a softball team that my church has put together. We play in the Wichita Falls rec league, and we are all likely past our prime.
My 99 lbs of pure muscle can barely get a ball past the pitcher. And if we had as many hits as we had people hitting the ground, we might’ve hung in there during our first game. But hey, we have a whole lot of fun together.
Our team name?
When I don that shirt and see that team name, I think about how the church is to be a place where we can call out for help.
Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, life can be difficult.
Yet all too often our churches don’t provide a means or curate a culture in which we can openly admit the challenges we’re walking through.
I want to be a part of changing that.
I want to break the stigma around acknowledging one’s pains and trials.
My biggest pet peeve? When people say “good” after you ask how they’re doing. Especially in church.
Lately I’ve been reflecting on and studying one verse out of the book of James. It’s likely a familiar one for many of us.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, – James 1:2
You will face trials in this life.
And according to James, these trials will happen suddenly.
The Greek word for “meeting” trials of various kinds is the word περιπίπτω or peripiptō. Now, I got a C in Greek so I’m no expert. But this word is often translated into English with the phrase “fell into”. And I honestly much prefer that translation.
Suffering isn’t something you meet intentionally. I had lunch with a student at 1:15 today. I didn’t follow that lunch with a meeting on my schedule for “pain, suffering, trials, and tribulations”.
Suffering far more often is something you just fall into. That Greek word also emphasizes being surrounded by something. Like diving into the ball pit at an ol’ McDonalds. You are fully submerged and surrounded.
Your sufferings in life will at times feel like they are drowning you, suffocating you, and overpowering you.
When that happens, you need to call out for help.
The word peripiptō only shows up in the New Testament in two other places. One of those two places is in Luke’s telling of the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Jesus replied, a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and HE FELL (peripiptō) among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. – Luke 10:30
This man in the parable was suddenly surrounded by unexpected suffering. In this case he was robbed, beaten, and left for dead.
What happens as this story of Jesus goes on? A “Good Samaritan” comes along and meets this man’s needs, lifts him up out of his trials, and gets him healing.
I think we have a lot to learn from this parable.
Who around you seems like they’re overwhelmed?
Who around you needs someone to move towards them in their pain, rather than walking on by?
Who around you could benefit from someone just asking how they’re doing and how you can help them?
What about your own suffering?
Have you told anyone?
Have you asked for help?
Have you said ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’?
In our individualistic society, this sadly has become taboo as can be. But what is frowned upon culturally (asking for help) is celebrated and prized and encouraged Biblically.
I’m grateful for the men in my life I can turn to when I am feeling overwhelmed. I’m grateful that when I tell them I’m not doing great, they help and listen and encourage and support and strengthen me.
And you know what?
That produces joy in my life.
Suffering will come.
Don’t go through it alone.
And know that you can reach out to me anytime about anything!