A few months ago, I wrote an article for “Life in the Journey” called “Walking through difficulty… together“. In that post, I primarily was thanking God for the many brothers and sisters that he has placed in our lives, and acknowledging that I need these people in my life to help me walk with God. God places us together to live together, in both the good times and the bad times, to rejoice with one another and to mourn with one another, to encourage and to comfort.
Over the last few weeks especially, we’ve seen more and more friends struggling through life. It seems, in fact, that the number of struggles has increased exponentially over the last few months and years. As I think about these struggles and the seeming increase of struggles, I wonder if the increase is real, or if I simply know about more of the struggles because there are more people who have chosen to share their lives with us.
In reality, I realize that over the last couple of years especially, my family has begun to learn what it means to live together with other people. This means that we are learning not only to bear the other person’s burden, but also to share our own burdens. I think, sometimes, sharing my burdens is more difficult than helping someone else bear their burden. But, both – give and take – is important and necessary as we learn to live in community with one another – with Jesus Christ as the one who creates and maintains our fellowship, with him alone being our common identity.
I said, “My family has begun to learn what it means to live together with other people”. I want to say that we HAVE learned, but that would not be true. This process is ongoing, and since we are not complete yet, we have a long way to go and much more to learn. We are still learning to trust and to be trustworthy, to care and to allow others to care, to speak and to listen, to accept and to be real/authentic, to give grace and to accept grace, and most of all, to hope and to offer hope to others.
Since we are still learning, we are also still making mistakes. And, since our brothers and sisters are not perfect yet either – sorry to burst your bubble – they make mistakes as well. Besides being hurt by life, we hurt one another. Thus, forgiveness must be a huge part of learning to live together. Of course, this includes asking for forgiveness and offering forgiveness. We who have been given much, who have been forgiven greatly, and who have been loved unconditionally give, forgive, and love others in response… imperfectly though.
So, as our friends struggle with sickness, death, relationship problems, financial problems, job issues, emotional stresses, etc. and as our family struggles with the same issues, we learn to live together, in spite of these struggles and through these struggles. We learn to depend upon God as we depend upon one another. We learn that God cares as we see others care. As we give and receive, offer and accept, in strength and in weakness, we learn to live together… living the life of a traveller, yearning for our true home, rejoicing in the fellow travellers that God places in our path.