Out of the Most Severe Trial, Part 2
And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.
2 Corinthians 8:1-5
Paul addresses that conclusion that we have nothing to offer with a beautiful description of people who really had nothing to give, but through prayer realized the little they had was actually eternal in value. This is one of my favorite encouragement passages. Though it doesn’t at first appear that Paul is speaking about encouragement, take a second look. God gave grace to a broken and hurting church. That very poor local church family experienced joy in the midst of their brokenness. Out of their poverty came rich generosity. They gave beyond their ability to another local church. They considered carefully and prayerfully what that local church needed (they gave themselves first to the Lord) and then they obeyed what they believed God wanted them to give. I wonder if they looked at each other with disbelief that the Lord wanted them to sacrifice the little they had. It appears their giving required emptying of themselves. These are people who are in love with Jesus and His community. Their theology drove their living. Their actions reflected their theology, that God’s gift of community is priceless.
You may be facing an enormous encouragement assignment. It could be a friend whose life is so profoundly broken that you have no idea where to start. Carefully and prayerfully give yourself to the Lord with these words:
“Lord, I don’t know what to do, but you do. I feel as though I have nothing to give, but I have you. Show me how to share my love for you with this broken friend. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help turn her heart toward you.”
He may ask you to go way beyond your comfort zone. But grace overflows in those who are willing to be risk taking disciples and give beyond their own ability. Write in your journal one way you will offer help and hope to your friend today.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the the MARKINC website and listen to the Stillbirth audio resource so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Days away from the joy of holding their first child, Bill and Michelle feel their world crumbling as the doctor’s words settle into their souls, “There is no heartbeat.” Justin and Carrie look forward to welcoming their second child into their home when their doctor gives them the same horrific news. Two couples, two responses to loss that seems almost impossible to bear.
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Contact Sharon with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.