When I’m the One Who’s Suffering—Part 2

Leader, are you suffering today? Perhaps you are like me and suffer from a debilitating illness or maybe you are stricken with a severe financial loss. Are you dealing with the loss of a family member or close friend? Maybe you are suffering from the weight of your sin or the sins of others. Whatever our specific distress or pain, we can take joy during our times of suffering and find hope in God’s Holy Word. 

Ministry leaders are called upon to help others who are suffering all the time. In my last post, we asked the question, “What if I, the leader, am the one who’s suffering?” I shared that I am very familiar with this situation, as a women’s ministry leader who suffers with Lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes me to walk a balancing act between serving and allowing myself to be served in times of my own suffering. Our first lesson was a reminder that even leaders need friends. Today’s lesson speaks of how we, as leaders, should relate to those friends during our personal times of suffering.

Lesson #2: Allow Others to Serve You

When we board a plane, an announcement before takeoff instructs that in the case of an emergency requiring oxygen masks, we are to put on our own mask first, before helping others. As leaders, we tend to fall into two ditches where this is concerned. Either we are so busy getting in the fight to help others that we forget to put on our own mask, or we fail to recognize that we are the passenger who needs to sit back and allow someone else to assist us this time. We are eager to help others, and that’s okay. Nevertheless, it is necessary, at times, to allow others to serve and encourage us, as we find in 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.”

If we are not healthy and whole, it can be hard to be effective when serving others. Oh, we may get the task done, but we will prolong our own suffering, cause harm to our families, or even hurt our ministries.

Please know that I am not suggesting that doing this is easy or should be taken lightly. However, we must remember that as sisters in Christ, we really do need each other. We live in a fallen world and we need one another to:

  • Handle the pains and distresses of this life.
  • Recover from the consequences of poor decisions we make as leaders.
  • Tangibly support one another during times of suffering.

John 16:33 reminds us that “in this world you will have tribulation.” It may come as a result of injustice (1 Pet. 2:13), illness or disease (Luke 14:2, 2 Cor. 4:16), persecution (1 Pet. 3:14, 2 Tim. 2:9), or a variety of other causes.

Whatever our suffering may be, we can be encouraged to know that we are not in this alone. As sisters in Christ we have one another to lean on. As a matter of fact, Scripture encourages us to remember that we need each other:

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. (Eccl. 4:9-12 NASB, emphasis mine.)

I hope you will take encouragement from these verses to cultivate a true sisterhood with like-minded women for every day of life—not just in the days of suffering. Remember, leader or not, we aren’t meant to suffer alone. We truly are better together.

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

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About the Author

Dr. Venessa Ellen

Dr. Venessa Ellen

Dr. Ellen serves as the Chair and Program Coordinator of the Women’s Ministry Department at the College of Biblical Studies where she teaches, counsels, trains and mentors women. For more than 23 year

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