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How to Enter the Fellowship of the Suffering
By Rick Warren

“By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (NCV)

Christians talk a lot about fellowship. But that word can mean different things—ranging from simply saying hello before a church service to serving together on a mission trip. But the deepest kind of fellowship is the fellowship of suffering—when you take the risk of sharing your pain with someone else.

In the fellowship of suffering, God uses your pain to draw you closer to other people. If you allow it, pain will deepen your love for other people. Suffering matures, sensitizes, and transforms you. I’ve seen the most stubborn, self-centered people turned into loving, generous people after a major tragedy in their life, because they chose to share their pain with and bear the pain of others.

When my son, Matthew, died, my wife and I knew the statistics were not good for our marriage. Nearly one third of all couples who lose a child end up divorcing. So we have intentionally worked to cultivate our marriage. We’ve given each other grace. We’ve chosen not to judge each other’s feelings. And because we’ve been intentional, the fellowship of suffering has brought us closer to each other.

Galatians 6:2 says, “By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ” (NCV). What is the law of Christ? Jesus tells us: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39 NLT). When you help other people in your pain, your suffering, and your troubles—when you enter the fellowship of suffering—you’re obeying Christ’s command to love your neighbor as yourself.

Many people think of love as chocolate and roses and love songs. But real love works for the good of the other person. Love tends to physical wounds. Love mows a widow’s lawn. Love sits in silence with someone as they mourn. Real love does. Real love works. And if you let it, pain will teach you how to really love.

If you want to be part of the fellowship of suffering, then you must be vulnerable. You have to take a risk and share what you’re feeling with someone and let God use your pain to draw you closer to other people.

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This devotional © 2018 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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