Those who are suffering need the church, not just a pastor. James 5:13-14 affirms that it is sometimes a benefit to have pastors during times of suffering, but have you considered the numerous passages that affirm the sufferer may need you? Let me share a few.
1 Corinthians 12:26 – “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
2 Corinthians 1:4 – “who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
Galatians 6:1-2 – “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 3:12 – “and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,”
Hebrews 3:13 – “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
Hebrews 10:34 – “For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.”
James 1:27 – “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
1 Peter 4:8 – “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
1 John 3:11 – “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
1 John 4:11 – “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Our ability to care flows from a marvelously powerful source! Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
Each of us has suffered or will suffer. Our sufferings have and will vary in degree and therefore the amount of love, encouragement, and the bearing of burdens will vary as well. Yet, all of us should recognize our place to care for the suffering among us. None of us will likely be able to do everything necessary, but each of us can do something.
Do you know someone who is suffering? What can you do?