At the end of my last post, I posed the question, “Can I be content even if I spend the rest of my days physically unable to do daily household tasks”? God has given me the opportunity to try to answer this question. My sleep deteriorated to the point that I was sleeping only 1 hour per night for several weeks, resulting in physical and mental deterioration; I felt much like Paul expresses in his second letter to the Corinthians:
For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead…
(2 Corinthians 1:8-9)
In such a state, I found it difficult to focus my thoughts on anything. I knew that I desired to focus on God’s attributes and promises, but my sleep-deprived brain just wouldn’t process anything. The rest of the passage in 2 Corinthians provided the solution:
…who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.
(2 Corinthians 1:10-11)
Through the prayers of many, I was greatly encouraged to keep setting my hope on God who will deliver me. In addition to prayer, these people sent texts, letters, cards, and devotionals, each of which I read many times in an attempt to stay focused on the Truth; this Christian fellowship helped me to persevere.
From “We Need Each Other” by John Piper
So when I talk about Christian fellowship as a means of perseverance, the fellowship I have in mind is the mutual bond (and I think mutual would be the adjective form of koinonía in English) that Christians have with Christ that unites us in a profound and eternal relationship of love that should express itself in joyful and affectionate service for each other’s good.
The severity of the bodily distress I experience at times feels like an all-out assault on my faith. I want to stand true, persevering to the end to receive the crown of life (James 1:12). I know that Jesus will lose none that the Father has given Him (John 6:39), but remembering and living out this hope when my body is screaming at me is harder than it seems on paper. That doesn’t make God’s promises any less true though, and frequent loving reminders from other believers have been the means that God has used to keep my heart soft.
But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.