Strengthen Your Sisters in ChristBy Trillia Newbell | April 4th, 2013 | Category: Uncategorized | 5 comments
We meet every week. It’s a time to share, encourage, pray and grow together in Christ. These girls are the ones I’ve revealed to all the messy wounds and scars in my heart. We’ve learned that we need each other in this journey of faith. It’s in the mutual sharing of life’s stories and God’s redemptive work in them that encourages us in the midst of our own trials.
The Apostle Peter had one such story of redemption in his own life, and one which he shared with others. Peter was one of Jesus’ closest friends. When Jesus first met him, he told Peter that his name would change from Simon to Peter because he would become “a rock.” To become that “rock” though, Peter would have to go through an intense time of trial and grief. Shortly before Jesus was arrested, he told Peter that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed. Jesus also said, “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).
The Gospels tell us that Peter did deny Jesus. After the resurrection, Jesus met Peter where he had gone to grieve, at the lake where he always fished. He asked him three times if he loved him and three times Peter said yes. In that moment, his relationship with Christ was fully restored.
One thing that stands out to me in this story is what Jesus told Peter to do after he went through his trial–to strengthen his brothers. It was expected that Peter would use the experience he went through to help others. Yet for Peter to use his painful story to strengthen his brothers, he would have had to be transparent about his trial. He would have had to tell his fellow disciples about how he rejected Jesus. He would need to voice the shame he felt when Jesus looked him in the eyes as the rooster crowed that third time. And then Peter would need to share how Jesus healed and restored him on the shores of Galilee.
Peter did share his trial with his fellow disciples for each of the gospels share about Peter’s denial. John gently records Peter’s restoration on the sea shore. We know from the book of Acts that Peter went on to further encourage the early church as he faithfully preached the gospel of Christ. He became the stone that Jesus told him he would be. And he became that rock, not out of his strength, but out of his brokenness.
So what about us? Are we called to “strengthen our sisters” through our own stories of redemption? I believe we are. Yet how often are we more likely to hold on selfishly to a trial we’ve been through, keeping it to ourselves, rather than share the work God did in and through us? Sometimes, we hold on to our stories because of guilt or shame rather than show others what God can do through the messes of our lives. Or perhaps there is fear that by revealing our trials and sharing our messes, people will reject and judge us.
Yet it’s through stories of brokenness and God’s redemptive work in them that He builds the church. Jesus said that he came to save the sick, not the healthy. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32) He came to save sinners and we are all sinners, weak, helpless, and in need of God’s healing. As we testify of God’s work in us, it encourages others. When we boast in our weakness, God gets the glory (2 Corinthians 12:9). When the world sees the healing and transforming power of God through us, it becomes a living testimony of His grace.
It’s important that we share with our sisters what He has done for us. As we share those stories, we are sowing tears that Christ will use to bring a harvest of blessing (Psalm 126:5). Our stories encourage others, testify to God’s grace, and point to the One who came to redeem all our brokenness.
We were all once a Simon. But through Christ’s redemptive power, He strengthens us to become like Peter, a stone–transformed by brokenness and enabled to stand secure by His power and grace.
Each of us has a personal story of God’s redemptive work through our brokenness. What story can you tell today?