There is a pervasive and self-destructive mentality that exists in this world that it is somehow wrong or unholy to speak about emotions or hardships. Even when someone realizes that it is, in fact, good in the Lord’s eyes to speak about such things with each other, there is still hesitation and reluctance to actually follow through. Why is that? Embarrassment? Shame? Fear? Whatever the reasons may be, it is harmful to the self and others to take such a stance. Let’s dive into the Word of God to see what happens when there is a refusal to be vulnerable by talking about our feelings.
If we take a stance of refusing to speak to each other about our pains and sufferings, we will end up not talking out our feelings anymore and we will be left alone to ourselves. How sad it would be to suffer through affliction without a sympathizing friend and Lord who will be open to listening to our sufferings and cares.
We are told to bear one another’s burdens as brethren in Christ. We should help each other out. These burdens are not just the physical, as in helping to buy groceries or move furniture. These burdens are also those of the mind and of the heart.
Galatians 6:2 “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
Keep this verse well entrenched in your heart. To bear one another’s burdens fulfills the law of Christ. But how can these burdens be born when those burdens are never expressed? Here is another way of seeing it … you cannot help those who don’t seek for help. In like manner, we cannot receive help if we don’t seek after it.
In times of trials and difficulties, we are also told to comfort and edify each other.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”
We will speak more about comfort, where it comes from, and what to do with it later on. There is a Greek word called “kathairein” meaning “to cleanse or purge”—to describe the release of emotional tension. Today, the word “catharsis” can be used in reference to any experience of emotional release or cleansing. There is healing and comfort through a release of anxious emotions simply through the process of speaking to a trusted person.
In fact, we are also to show our sympathy to those who are under grief even with tears!
Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”
Such sympathy can be difficult to show when there is little to no information as to why they are weeping. It will be said that there is no need to speak about those pains … that it is possible to weep with them that weep without offering up any information. To that I say, correct. However, we are Christians who have been blessed to have the same heart as Jesus Christ. That heartfelt love toward a brother or sister has an overwhelming desire to know the details because we desperately want to impart some holy wisdom that the Lord has given us through similar trials. Such healing words cannot be given when there is a lack of knowledge regarding the other person’s trials.
In fact, we are also to show our sympathy to those who are under grief even with tears! Just like when Jesus sympathizes with Mary. John 11:35 “Jesus wept.”
Even Paul expresses his feelings with tears to the brethren in Corinth to show his abundant love to them.
2 Corinthians 2:4 “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.”
In fact, there is much said about comfort and consolation in just the first 2 chapters of 2 Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 “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. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.”
Paul is extremely clear here. He acknowledges the sufferings while also pointing the Corinthians toward God who is the only one who can heal them through their trials. At the same time, he speaks openly about his own sufferings so that others may bear witness of the mercy and grace of the Lord. He neither neglected nor hesitated from opening up about his trials.
Those who have already endured sufferings and have been rescued by God are in a better position in life to be able to guide others toward God so that they may be able to show them the mercy and kindness of our Father. The afflictions of life are rooted in bringing us closer to our Lord to live lives of submission and obedience. But the afflictions of life are not there to simply teach us as individuals. No, they are there so that OTHERS may come to Christ.
Turning to those who have much experience in life are well equipped to advise and counsel their brethren in the ways of God. But what happens when afflicted brethren refuse to utter their pains and sufferings to their brethren? The counsels of the Lord go unuttered and unreceived. The afflicted brother or sister shoots themselves in the foot when they refuse to speak and/or receive counsel.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.”
Notice how Paul did not refuse to speak about his own suffering to the brethren. He even went so far as to mention how he and the other brethren with him despaired even of life! Which is what happens when we have those thoughts that it would be better to die than to live. And this isn’t the only time Paul spoke in such a way.
Philippians 1:23-24 “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”
What is better: to be solitary in your most desperate of times? Or to be in the loving and compassionate presence of brethren who love you? Little does one realize that it goes both ways. The one who loves us also suffers with us and has a Christlike desire to help. By refusing to confide the sufferings of our hearts to them, they suffer even more as a result. Little does the afflicted soul realize that their stifled suffering causes the ones who love them most to experience great pain as well.
2 Corinthians 2:5-8 “But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.”
Sometimes, the way people express their pain is through harshness and grief. Nonetheless, to forgive them and comfort them in tenderness and love is the path to take.
2 Corinthians 2:12-13 “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.”
Notice again that Paul voiced his sorrow when he said, “I had no rest in my spirit,” He went even further by stating exactly WHY he was so sad when he said, “because I found not Titus by brother:”
So, if Paul so oftentimes opened his mouth to express the things that were troubling him, then why do so many believers and unbelievers alike make the choice to stifle their emotions and refuse to speak about the troubles in their lives?
Simply put, it’s because the enemy of souls knows perfectly well that Jesus, the Apostles, and all of the other disciples spoke openly to their brethren about what they were going through and received a greater faith by receiving the counsel of Godly brethren. Satan knows how much comfort and consolation comes from confiding in others. He knows that those like Paul had no trouble in expressing his feelings and both he and those who heard him were blessed to grow closer to the Lord and each other.
Speaking personally, there are those whom I have known for years and yet know next to nothing about what they go through. Then there are those whom I have known for but a short time and they have, on many occasions, confided to me about what they go through. It is much easier to grow closer to those who have opened up about their suffering than it is to grow close to those who haven’t. Length of relationship has nothing to do with it … but openness and displays of vulnerability do.
The enemy knows this as well. So, he will do everything in his power to separate us from each other.
Psalm 2:2-3 “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
The enemy knows that when we are by ourselves, our strength of faith can begin to dwindle into nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just talking about being alone in a physical sense. I am also talking about being alone emotionally and mentally as well. Being in the company of fellow believers is always a good thing. But how does a group truly learn to love and trust each other? One way is to confide in one another. To see vulnerability in someone while also seeing the strength of Christ in their situation is a blessing to every soul involved.
I bring this next part up just as an example. I take no stock in this sort of thing. Why do you think group therapy exists? So that those involved in the group can witness that they are not alone; that there are others who are suffering just like they are. Over time, this method builds bonds and develops heartfelt relationships between the members of that group. Knowing with absolute certainty that one person is healing through similar circumstances brings the other people to a place of hope.
This method is not dissimilar to how the church ought to function. We grow closest to those who show vulnerability. We grow attached and bonded to those who express their feelings. And they grow closer to those who bear witness of the healing grace of God through personal testimony of how He heals.
When our brothers and sisters in Christ fall into some trials and difficulties along the path, isn’t it a real blessing to have a trusted brother or sister to lift them up?
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.”
Truly, words of comfort and encouragement are needed during this difficult time. For those words are needed to brighten up and cheer one up.
Proverbs 25:11 “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
Proverbs 15:23 “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!”
But how can these good and Godly words be spoken when the issues are unknown? How can a good word spoken in due season be offered up when that season of trial and tribulation goes unspoken?
Yes, we really need each other and be subject to one another. For if we bear one another’s burdens we fulfill the law of Christ. Not only that, however. But by our conversation with our trusted friend or brother we may learn and sharpen one another’s graces.
Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
Did not the Lord speak His Word through His people? Was it not the Lord who said in …
Romans 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Did He not set us as counsellors and judges? How can the Word of God and His good counsels be given to those in need when those in need refuse to speak to their trusted brethren? The Lord set us up to be shoulders to cry on toward each other. His comforting and holy words have been given through others to others so that they can learn that it is in their weakness that the strength of Christ can abound.
The one who internalizes their emotions and sufferings hinders their own walk in Christ. Moreover, they deny themselves from having deeper relationships with their brethren. They come across as cold in their resistance to confide in others.
We have been created as emotional and social creatures who thrive in the presence and counsel of likeminded people. Refusing to express their emotions actually breaks down the confidence of others. This is because the person who refuses to express their own emotions comes across as one who cannot be trusted to hear the emotions of others. Nor can they be seen as one who is able to properly advise because other people have born no witness to how they made it through trying circumstances.
May we all learn how to convey our troubles with one another in healthy and holy ways; never expressing doubt or disbelief. Just as we go to the Lord for comfort and healing, we ought to confide in our trusted brethren as well. Since He has given experience to many, we ought to learn from those experiences in the understanding that it was God Himself who gave them those experiences so that others may learn and grow in the Lord.
I used to hate the fact that God had me go through so much in my short time on this earth. The amount of trouble He’s allowed me to go through can be described as extreme. There have even been many people who have described me as having lived through many lifetimes worth of anguish. But today I praise the Lord for loving me enough to have me go through such things because it was only through them that He has given me much experience in a wide variety of things. He has ensured that those experiences are now testimonies to be used to bring others to Him.
I shudder to imagine being the person I once was … one who refused to express my thoughts, feelings, and sufferings because of some misguided attempt to bear it all on my own. The Lord would not have given us each other as a church family if that were the proper path to take in life.
Speaking very personally, it was only through the Lord bringing me into the company of the brethren that countless tears and much suffering was relieved recently. Here’s the thing … it’s not like I have no knowledge of the Scriptures. Nor is it the case that my brethren had given me verses and passages that I hadn’t already known and recited over and over again in my own mind. In fact, I can’t recall a single verse given to me by them that I didn’t know.
But it was the case that through their compassionate and merciful countenance combined with those verses and passages that the Word of God came alive in a new way. No, my brethren didn’t heal me. But it was through them that the Lord drew me even closer to His side. It was by the expression of His great love THROUGH the brethren that He brought me to a place wherein I could receive His healing grace.
And I praise the Lord daily for blessing me with brethren who spent hours on the phone with me to help lift me up during some of the most difficult times in my life recently. His mercies and comforts are given in so many ways if we would but reach out to receive them. And much of the time, those blessings are given by Him through the hands of those He has placed in our lives. To God be glory, praise, and unending worship.