Do You Want to Hear About My Really Bad Day?

A couple of days ago, my wife and I had dinner with some very dear friends of ours. The husband said to me, “Terry, when I think about your life and all you’ve been through, I see such a pattern of people betraying you and hurting you. But yet, you seem to love and give to so many people. I’m not sure why this is so.”

I’ve thought about my friend’s comments for the last few days. His statements are certainly true. I do care deeply for my brothers and sisters. And, I do give a lot (by all means, praise the Lord, not me).

But yes, if anyone was to examine the overall pattern of Terry Stanley’s last 30 years as a Christian, you would see very close relationships, love, giving and sacrifice – and plenty of betrayal, hurt, false accusations, broken relationships and emotional turmoil.

The word “compassion” is truly an amazing word. It appears 98 times in the Bible, 17 times in the New Testament. The word compassion comes from 2 different root words: “Passion” meaning “to suffer”. The word “com”, meaning “with”. Compassion means to “suffer with”.

Jesus certainly had compassion. He suffered with people. He loved them, He fed them, He healed them, He taught them, He set them free, yet they all betrayed Him and murdered Him.

I am certainly not comparing myself to the Lord. He has love and compassion that I could never have in myself. And, I have never suffered the betrayal He has. But think about it. The more Christ loved, the more He was hurt. The more He laid His life down for others, the more they betrayed Him.

1Pe 2:21 “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.”

Why have I been betrayed so much in my life by those whom I’ve loved the most? Because I have been called for this purpose. It is what is supposed to happen on earth when God is who He is. Anytime you are Godly, you will suffer. God is rejected by men, He is hated, persecuted and betrayed. Anytime God comes through you, expect to suffer in some manner. But why does it have to be this way? You ask a superb question.

Act 9:4 “and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

Jesus said that Paul was persecuting Him. This happened after the Lord’s crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. Jesus was not even here on the earth physically, yet He was being persecuted by Paul. Hmmm.

The fact is, Christ is still suffering. He is still being persecuted. Christians are being imprisoned and tortured for their faith this very day. Even though Christ has risen and has ascended to the Father, Jesus Christ is still rejected and hated by men.

We are the body of Christ here on earth. When the apostle Paul was persecuting Christians, he was persecuting Christ Himself because the church is His body.

Let’s shift gears for just a second so you can get this. I want to paint you a picture and then tie it in to everything I previously said.

Imagine for just a moment a very hot summer day and an empty field of dirt with no trees. The sun is scorching and there is no relief from the heat. A man is standing in this dry and dusty field with a very large beam of wood across his shoulders. The beam is so heavy, and the man is so tired and exhausted, he can barely stand up under its weight. As you walk up to this poor suffering fellow, the first thing you notice is the sweat pouring into his eyes which he cannot wipe because he is shouldering the heavy beam of wood with his arms.

Now, let me ask you a question. What does this man need? The same thing every single one of us needs!

Compassion.

He needs you to suffer with him. He doesn’t necessarily need you to take the plank of wood off his shoulders. No, it is his to carry and it is God’s design that he carry it. But he does need you to know what he is going though. He needs you to suffer with him.

How could you possibly have “compassion” on this man unless you actually suffer with him? In order to have compassion and truly love him, you decide to shoulder the load with him – to feel what he feels, to know and experience WITH HIM the weight of the beam.

Phl 3:10 “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death”.

My dear friends, you cannot truly know Christ until you suffer with him. You cannot know one another until you suffer with one another. And there is fellowship in the suffering.

You slide under the beam of wood alongside the man in the field on this hot and painful day. You feel the weight of the beam, and you fellowship together while you sweat and suffer in the heat together.

Now you know him and you know what he is going through. Now you have compassion.

When I am personally betrayed for loving those around me, it does a work in my heart because I am joining with Christ in His suffering. During this suffering, I know Him more deeply than ever before. We look at each other under the weight of the beam and there is comfort, we fellowship together while it hurts.

While at dinner the other day, my friend pointed out this scripture. I’m sure he won’t mind me borrowing some of his thoughts.

Gal 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”

How can we do this? How can we bear one another’s burdens? How do we actually climb under the heavy log of wood we are all carrying and have true compassion for one another?

We have to WANT to suffer with. Now why in the world would anyone want to suffer with someone else?

“I mean, I’m sorry that beam of wood is hard for you and all, but…I have a really busy day. Hey let’s have lunch sometime?” “You know seeing you there carrying that beam of wood on your back reminds me of a story about myself…”

None of these responses are very intimate. As soon as it becomes about you, then you have neglected the man carrying the beam.

The reason why we would want to truly suffer with someone is because…we love them…and we want to know them. If we love Jesus and we want to know Him, we will embrace the suffering with Him.

Heb 13:12-13 “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”

How do we love one another and get to know each other under the weight of another’s pain and suffering? We do whatever it takes to share in their experience as much as possible.

In order to suffer with someone else and have compassion, we must ask them questions in order to feel what they feel. “How is this hard? What truly happened? What are you feeling? What did they do to you? Please tell me, I really want to know. I want to share this with you. I must know how you are feeling and how you are affected.”

This is sometimes called empathy. But I find empathy to be just a tad shallow when compared to the word “compassion”, to suffer with.

Why is this so important? What does it do for the one suffering under the load? You heart that WANTS to share the load and be with them in it, and will not be stopped, is a large part of the actual comfort.

Let’s go back to our suffering man in the hot field. You see the man suffering under the heavy beam of wood and you decide to be with him in it. But right after you begin to slide under the weight of the beam, you are distracted by an interesting bird in the sky. You leave the beam and start chasing the bird around the field to get a better view.

Mat 26:40 “And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?”

For me personally, this is one of my greatest needs. To know that you want to be with me in my suffering, and that you would go out of your way to join with me in my pain – because you want to.

My dad used to tell me of a story about a friend he once had. Whenever my dad and mom would go out to dinner with Bill and his wife, and it came time to pay the check, Bill would very slowly reach for his wallet and like molasses say, “I’ll get the check this time…” All the while he was hoping my Dad would interrupt him and pay the waiter before his bluff would be called.

If my Dad were to let Bill pay, would it really be a blessing knowing that Bill really didn’t want to pay? It is the “really wanting” to bear the load that meets the load bearer.

I confess, to a fault, I have hang-ups this area. I always try to give my friends a way out when they try to give to me. I only want to receive if someone is truly giving. Because that’s the only time it really means something to me, when they want to suffer with me and they do the work it takes to get under the beam of wood with me, and they simply will not be distracted by little birds.

Compassion is tenacious. Love endures. Love suffers long. This is where the word “long suffering” comes from.

Luk 9:23 “And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

Perhaps you can look at that verse a little differently now.

To know Christ is to know his sufferings. He is still being persecuted. Do you really WANT to suffer with him because you want to know what he is going through? Do you want to get underneath that heavy piece of wood with Him in order to be with Him? What about for your friends? To truly join those around you in their sufferings, and to go out of your way to join with them in their pain – because you want to is quite amazing. What love! What compassion! Truly bearing each other’s burdens is what heals and comforts the very body of Christ. Thank you my dear and close friend. Thank you for wanting to know. Thank you for sharing my load.

Luk 22:55-57 “After they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter was sitting among them. And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with Him too.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

How did Peter deny Christ? Because He didn’t want to suffer with Him. Peter saw that Jesus was arrested and He was going to be crucified. Peter was afraid to suffer the same fate, so he denied His Lord.

Anytime we refuse to suffer with Christ or with one another, we deny them and we betray them.

Husbands, when your wife talks to you about her problems, it is not so you can solve her problems, but she is crying out to be known. Your wife wants you to share her burden. Perhaps the complaining brother or sister is really crying out for someone to suffer with them, to know them, to feel with them and to share the load.

Men have the same need to bond with other men and share in the fellowship and brotherhood of truly knowing each other. I think of soldiers in battle who later become lifelong friends. They know each other and a bond is formed because they have suffered together.

I will do whatever it takes to feel what you feel. I will not be stopped. Because my desire to feel what you feel and to know you is greater than my fear of suffering.

-Terry Stanley

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