Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” – Galatians 6:2-3.

At some point, all of us struggle under the weight of a difficult situation. It might be a sin we cannot overcome, a trial that just doesn’t let up, or a need that remains unmet. Fortunately, we don’t have to struggle through it alone because we have the support of fellow believers who are willing to share our burdens. The reality is that we need each other.

There is an example of bearing others’ burdens in the Book of Acts. Christians of the early church pooled their resources to help meet the material and financial needs of believers who were in poverty: “All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need” (Acts 4:32-35). Paul also displays this concern for others’ welfare in his various letters to growing churches. He knew it was his responsibility and privilege to strengthen them even though he was repeatedly undergoing his own hardships and afflictions.

The moment you become a Christian, many wonderful and amazing things occur.  You are united forever with Christ, you are declared righteous before God, you are placed into God’s family as an adopted child, and God begins a work in you of setting you apart from sin to Himself. What about your relation to other Christians though? Do you need them?  Do they need you? Christians and Christian families need each other to grow in their Christian faith. “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).  Christians need the support of other believers if they are to grow in their faith. Recipients of the letter to the Hebrews were encouraged to “…think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works…”’ (Hebrews 10.24-25).

Nobody is a whole team. Each one is a player. But take away one player and the game is forfeited. We need each other. You need someone and someone needs you. Isolated islands, we’re not.

None of us is whole, independent, and self-sufficient. We need each other?

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does it mean to you to carry each other’s burdens?
  2. Why is it important to view other Christians as a family?


If you are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all noble things are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but the difficulty if it does not make us faint and can in, it rouses us to overcome.” Oswald Chambers.

There is a passage in Mere Christianity in which C.S. Lewis talks about whether the Christian life is hard or easy. “It’s both”, Lewis says. “It’s hard as death in the beginning, and then as his life begins to worth within us and transform us, it is relatively easy, because he does the work of transforming us.” The question could be slightly rephrased as does living as a christian make life easier or harder? You can answer that question both ways; it is harder and easier.

Luke 14: 28-30 says:”But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ Jesus’ appeal is for those who would follow Him to reflect on the serious demands of discipleship. But does that make Christianity hard?

To believe irrefutably that Christianity is hard is a little bit tricky because it risks belittling the atoning work of Christ—making it sound as if salvation depends upon man’s effort. On the other hand, if Christians say following Jesus is easy, they risk downplaying the cost of discipleship. So how exactly does Scripture depict the life of a Christ-follower? Is it easy or hard to be a Christian? The answer is both.

Take a minute to read Matthew 11:29-30. Jesus breaks the easy/hard question down in extremely practical terms. “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” But read  Matthew 7:14 and you get a contrasting image of discipleship: “But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”

So Jesus’ yoke is easy (Matthew 11:30) while the way is hard (Matthew 7:14) While christians’ spiritual burdens may be easy, their path is difficult. It’s a trail that leads believers into the hard sayings of Jesus such as the command to love one’s enemies (Luke 6:27), forgive others “seventy times seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22), and regularly assume the role of a servant (Matthew 20:26).

The Christian life is not always easy. Sometimes it is very difficult. Jesus didn’t come to confuse us. He came to love us and to show us the way to peace. He’s our ultimate example, and what’s more, He told us that we would do even greater things than He did.  Easy or hard? Yes, it is.

Discussion Questions:

  1. In your opinion is it hard or easy to follow Jesus? 
  2. What can we do this week to love God and love others a little better?  

The Water, River, and Fires Of 2023

“But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says,“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1-2.

In Isaiah 43, God talks to His people, the Israelites, as they begin a journey. After years in captivity, they rejoiced at the freedom to return to their homeland. But to get there, they would have to travel a long distance. Their travel would look quite different from ours — no plane to catch and no trailer to haul their stuff. So you can imagine the challenge this nation would face when they found themselves standing in front of deep waters or difficult rivers. Men, women, children, livestock, and all their belongings would have to find a way through these physical obstacles.

Though we may not come upon an actual river or fire, we will likely encounter obstacles in 2023. Notice how Isaiah says, “When you go through deep waters … When you go through rivers of difficulty … When you walk through the fire of oppression.” The water, river, and fire represent the afflictions, trials, and difficulties we face. The Bible makes it clear that it is a question of when not if.  The nation of Israel encountered these difficulties on its journey, and I think we can count on it too.

Thankfully, God is with us in our most troubling times. He is constantly working all things out for His will. And He has compassion for us. When everything else is uncertain, there is one thing that you can depend on — the promises of God.

The Bible is filled with the promises of God. From Genesis to Revelation we read of normal people that received the promises of God. When God makes a promise to His people, it will come to pass. What is a promise? A promise is a covenant or declaration that one will do exactly what one says or something will happen just as pledged.

As we get ready for 2023,  spend some time simply meditating on the promises of God. You might try focusing on one each week. Take a deeper look at God’s character and what He promises to those who believe in Him. Because no matter how prepared we feel, we’ll never be able to conquer our troubles alone. God didn’t just warn of potential problems ahead, He included promises to stand on in the midst of them.

As we head into a new year, let’s start 2023 prepared, so that when we face the trials of life we will stand. Undaunted by deep waters. Ready for rivers of difficulty. Fearless in the face of the fire.

Discussion Questions:

  1. God wants believers to know they are loved so much that they need not live in fear. Yet, this love relationship does not eliminate all fearful things in our lives. What are the things you fear in 2023?
  2. How does God eliminate these fears?

You Asked For It – The X Factor

“You know, in fact, that any attempt to talk things over with X will shipwreck on the old, fatal flaw in X’s character. And you see, looking back, how all the plans you have ever made always have shipwrecked on that fatal flaw–on X’s incurable jealousy, or laziness, or touchiness, or muddle-headedness, or bossiness, or ill temper, or changeableness. Up to a certain age you have perhaps had the illusion that some external stroke of good fortune–an improvement in health, a rise of salary, the end of the war–would solve your difficulty. But you know better now. The war is over, and you realize that even if the other things happened, X would still be X, and you would still be up against the same old problem. Even if you became a millionaire, your husband would still be a bully, or your wife would still nag, or your son would still drink, or you’d still have to have your mother-in-law live with you.” – The Trouble With X, C.S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis wrote a thought-provoking essay called “The Trouble with X,” in which he describes the struggles we all have with certain people who have a “fatal flaw” in their character that causes us difficulty and frustration. But by the end of the essay, however, Lewis turns the tables on you, with the reminder that, “you also are just that sort of person. You also have a fatal flaw in your character.” Ouch. The day that fully sinks in will be sobering and humbling. And convicting.

We are X in Lewis’ essay. This is not to say there are not specific issues which require our examination of others. Lewis is simply stating that we tend to take the exception and make it the rule. So we talk about, criticize, and get angry at the difficult people in our lives. But this essay points out what we know to be true intuitively: It may not seem a problem today, but reacting negatively to difficult people can quickly become our default position. We will wait for them to fix what needs to be fixed rather than looking within at what we need to fix.

“We must love ‘X’ more,” Lewis writes, “and we must learn to see ourselves as a person of exactly the same kind.” But it is difficult to turn our gaze from other’s faults to look at our heart and our lives. It’s always easier to point to others, but this is only to miss the point of God’s grace working in us. “Of all the awkward people in your house or job,” Lewis says, “there is only one whom you can improve very much. That is the practical end at which to begin. And really, we’d better. The job has to be tackled some day: and every day we put it off will make it harder to begin.”

Some people would push back by saying that C.S. Lewis hasn’t met my Uncle Joe or Mike the co-worker, or Amy the neighbor. In the essay Lewis says, “But why don’t you tell them? Why don’t you go to your wife (or husband, or father, or daughter, or boss, or landlady, or friend) and have it all out? People are usually reasonable. All you’ve got to do is to make them see things in the right light. Explain it to them in a reasonable, quiet, friendly way.” And we, whatever we say outwardly, think sadly to ourselves, C.S. Lewis doesn’t know X. But we do.  We know how utterly hopeless it is to assume that X will be reasonable. We know that because we have tried until we are blue in the face, only to realize that it is a complete waste of time. And besides if we attempt to have it out with X, there will be a scene, or X will simply look at us like we are aliens and say,  I don’t know what on earth you’re talking about.” Even if they agree to work the problem out they will soon return to their old difficult self because a leopard cannot change its spots.

The essay also adds: “It is no good passing this over with some vague, general admission such as ‘of course, I know I have my faults.'” It is important to realize that there is some really fatal flaw in you: something which gives others the same feeling of despair which their flaws give you. And it is almost certainly something you don’t know about–like the advertisements for bad breath where the only person who doesn’t realize they have bad breath is you. The real trouble with X is the trouble we see every morning in the mirror. And the day to start working on this problem is today. Let us turn our attention to where it is needed most. “The matter is serious,” Lewis reminds us, “let us put ourselves in His hands at once—this very day, this hour.”

“Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD.” – Lamentations 3:40


Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you have a “fatal flaw?”
  2. Why is it more difficult to look inward at ourselves, than outward at others?
  3. What can we do to make us less difficult to others?
  4. Do we pray for ourselves as well as for the difficult people in our lives?
  5. Pray and ask God to give you the self-awareness to look upward and inward for anything that would be a difficulty in the lives of others.

You Asked For It – Dealing With Difficult People

“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” – 2 Timothy 2:23-26

Life is full of difficult people. People who anger us, or rub us the wrong way, or are insensitive, or ill-mannered or loud or the one person who drives you completely crazy. Maybe they say sly insults, tell bad jokes, invade our personal space or are flat out obnoxious. They can be family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, even people in your small group. Whatever they do or however they get under our skin, they can cause damage to our walk with God.

As Christians, do we need to change or cope with difficult people? Christ calls us to love selflessly and ceaselessly. Does that include difficult people? Are we supposed to make nice, force a smile, while inside we want to be thousands of miles away with anybody but this person? How can we love somebody who is making it as difficult as they can to love them. How can we show genuine love when there is anger and disdain percolating just below the surface?

The answer is we can’t. At least not on our own.We occasionally have trouble loving even those who are dearest to us. So you can imagine how we could fall short when it comes to loving difficult people. The only true source of compassion, strength, and love is God. If we rely completely on God’s love and forgiveness for us, we can then draw from his infinite grace to love the difficult people in our lives. If you know you’re about to enter into an interaction with a difficult person, appeal to the Holy Spirit for strength, compassion, and patience. Through him, you have the power to represent Christ—even in the most trying of circumstances. Remember that your kindness and empathy could portray the gospel to someone who needs it.

The Bible has all sorts of practical advice about how to interact with people. Sometimes we may feel as though the Bible is distant and unrelated to today’s culture, but upon closer inspection, we can see that human nature hasn’t really changed. The Bible remains and is still relevant to our lives.

It is hard, but try not to take everything personally. Let things go. Pray for discernment about whether to confront an issue or let it go. It’s difficult to know when we should call out an offense or drop it. We don’t want to seem upset or ruffled all the time, but we also don’t want to bottle up all our frustrations until they erupt. We can become so caught up in proving a point or keeping our pride intact that we start to forget that we are as human as everyone else. A humble attitude admits to faults and views others as equals, instead of inferiors.

As I said on Sunday, don’t gossip. There’s nothing more tempting than blowing off steam with a group of understanding friends after an encounter with an obnoxious coworker or acquaintance. We want their feedback and sympathy or maybe we just want to talk it out. This is natural and often helpful for our peace of mind. But we must be careful not to indulge in slander or gossip. Venting should be about healing our wounds and being encouraged, not about dragging the difficult person’s name through the mud in order to feel superior to them.

Ephesians 4:32 puts it best: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Jesus is the reason we can each love deeply, joyfully, and freely.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is it possible to love people you don’t even like? Could you find something to love in difficult people?
  2. How do you define love when it comes to difficult people?
  3. Do difficult people determine your actions?
  4. What makes loving difficult people consistently so hard?
  5. How can we let things go rather than dwell on them?
  6. Pray and ask God to help you love someone you don’t like this week.