This month we are continuing our discussion concerning how we can deal with our feelings when we are spiritually different from those whom we usually find ourselves surrounded by, both Christians and non-Christians. To read last month’s article, see Part 1.
Here is the e-mail request that began this series of articles:
It would be great to have an encouraging Corner, one about how our walk is so very different from what even other Christians’ walks are.
It’s not easy making conservative Christian choices, even more so for a single, conservative Christian mom—there’s got to be more than one of me out there—a mom who’s the mom and the earner, who requires her children to obey, has modesty standards, limits outside influence and has her focus on the raising of her family, and having to do that alone.
Yet what’s really interesting is that every time I’m about to give in to what the world tempts, God steps in to remind me, usually through somebody else or somebody else’s situation, that the conservative choices I, or we, have made, are the right ones.
Being different from others often creates a sense of loneliness in our hearts. We may find ourselves longing for like-minded fellowship and companionship. This loneliness isn’t unique to us. Look at Paul’s experience with being different and the results in his life: “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:16-18).
Here we observe Paul’s reaction to being so different that he was left completely alone, and he was the only one left standing for God’s truth. First we see he had a forgiving spirit toward those who had wronged him. Next, he didn’t focus on his sense of loneliness, nor did he make finding others who were like him his priority. He most certainly didn’t compromise or change his message.
Paul chose to continue to be busy about the work the Lord Jesus had given to him. His mind and heart were fastened on that work, which is then where he put his thoughts. He could continue in what he needed to do because the Lord stood with him. He didn’t have to stop for a season to find others who would support the truth he held so dear. He looked to the Lord for strength and continued to preach the message of the Lord Jesus.
I believe we can learn from Paul’s experience with loneliness. The consequences of his being different were much greater than the consequences of our being different. He faced physical persecution, imprisonment, and banishment in addition to his loneliness. Yet he continually stood firm. For the time being in our nation, when we choose to follow the Lord Jesus in all aspects of our lives, our persecution is not actual physical hardship like Paul experienced. We are different, perhaps lonely, and often we face peer and family pressure, but we are not fearful for our lives.
The following verses give us the Lord’s direction for how we should face any hardships that we would have in our lives as a result of standing firm on the truth of the Word. “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:1-4).
Just like Paul, we are to be strong in the grace that is in Jesus Christ. We are to endure any difficulties that come our way because we belong to the Lord Jesus, we are fighting His battles, and we want to please Him. Our loneliness gives us opportunity to turn our focus fully on the Lord Jesus and off the distractions of this world.
In these situations, we find there is no comfort except the comfort of Jesus Christ. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation” (2 Corinthians 1:3-6). The Lord gives us comfort in our struggles, and He has a purpose in our learning to lean on His comfort, grace, and strength. We will pass on to others in need what we have learned.
While we may feel like the only ones making the choices we are making, it is probably much the same as it was with Elijah. “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal” (Romans 11:2-4).
Elijah was convinced he was the only one who was remaining faithful to God, but there were seven thousand others who were just like him. He simply didn’t know them. He wasn’t able to have fellowship with them or be encouraged by them. Isn’t it interesting that the Lord didn’t tell Elijah to go find some of the seven thousand? Instead He wanted Elijah to remain faithful to the call He had put on his life.
We may grow weary in our walk when there aren’t others who are like-minded to encourage us. However, Scripture has direction for us in this as well. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).
As we remain in the Word, growing in our walk with the Lord Jesus, we gain direction for our daily lives and strength to follow through with commitment. We can choose to let our minds be filled with thoughts of self-pity because of a lack of like-minded fellowship, letting this consume us and our time. Or we can serve the Lord Jesus, learning how He is a Friend like no other. May we be women who will steadfastly stay obedient to what Jesus has taught us even when we are different from others around us.