4 Ways to Find Community That Holds You Up in Hard Times – Abby McDonald

4 Ways to Find Community That Holds You Up in Hard Times – Abby McDonald

Sometimes asking for help is one of the hardest things we can do. We might fear looking needy or dependent on others. We might be afraid of raised eyebrows or rejection. But during some seasons of life, asking for help from others is not only necessary for our own health, it’s vital for the church as well. Because when others see the church, they see Christ. They see a body of believers who is not just concerned about their own needs, but the needs of those in their community.

If we look at the life of Jesus, we see a beautiful example of how accepting the help of others is not just about fulfilling our own needs, but furthering the spread of the gospel message. Although Jesus was singular in his purpose and would not be deterred from it, he had plenty of help from others. He was human. Women provided him with food and places to stay. On several occasions, he asked his disciples to carry out specific tasks to ensure he completes the work that the Father sent him to do. And during his final hours before death, he asks his disciples to keep watch for him in the Garden of Gethsemane.

“Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’” (Matthew 26:38)

Although the disciples did not fulfill Jesus’ request because they kept falling asleep, we see Jesus exhibit his human need for help during his darkest hour. The disciples were not able to strengthen him, but the Father did send an angel to provide comfort (Luke 22:43).

The following day, when Jesus’ body was weakened and bruised from flogging, Roman soldiers forced a man named Simon to carry his cross. Although Jesus did not ask him to do this, we know nothing in the story of his death or resurrection is an accident. This part of his journey to Golgotha was not an accident, but another illustration of how we need the support of others. While Jesus would bear the weight of our sin alone, his body was still human. And in a moment when it was shattered and broken, he needed someone to carry the physical weight of the cross for a short time, so he could bear its spiritual weight and finish the work for all eternity.

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So how do we find the help we need when we go through difficult, sometimes painful seasons in life? Here are four things we can do to find the kind of community that holds us up during hard times:

1. Spend time in places with a heart to serve.

Have you ever noticed that when Jesus called the first disciples and said, “Follow me,” none of them said “no?” They simply left whatever it was they were doing and went. Jesus knew them, and although each of them was flawed, he knew they had what was required to advance the advancement of the gospel message: a willing heart.

When we spend time in places that are already serving others, we know their heart is others-centered. These environments are actively seeking ways to meet the needs of their communities, and want to see its members thrive.

If you don’t know where to go, a good place to start is a local church. Although we are still in the midst of a pandemic, most church’s doors are still open and are looking for ways to help those in need during these difficult times. Some have food pantries to serve those in need and members on their team who will pray for you if you reach out with a specific prayer request.

2. Be authentic with those around you.

Our friends, families, and communities often don’t know we need help unless we’re going through a crisis that’s been shared. It’s important for us to let others we trust into our lives and tell them when we need their support. Often, we’re surprised at how willing our communities and neighbors are to come together and hold us up when we need it. People like to feel needed, and when we’re real with them instead of trying to hide our struggles, we give them the opportunity to not only bless us, but be blessed as well. We also give them the opportunity to fulfill the command Christ gave each one of us.

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“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 NIV)

3. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.

Sometimes we find the support we need in unexpected places. But to do this, we have to step outside the walls of what’s safe and comfortable. During one difficult season of my life after a huge cross-country move, this meant going to a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting. I was a new mom and didn’t know anyone there. Quite frankly, I was terrified of saying the wrong thing or looking like a fool. But once I got there and spent some time in conversation with other moms, I realized I wasn’t alone. They were going through the same transitions I was, and were there to support each other.

Don’t let your fear of appearing needy or imperfect keep you from connecting with people who may turn into your greatest support system. Relationships take time to foster and grow, but we all have to start somewhere.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10: 24-25 ESV)

4. Pray for God to guide you.

If you don’t know where to start, pray about it. We serve a God who is more than willing to provide wisdom and guidance to those who ask (James 1:5). He desires a relationship with each one of us, and is waiting for us to invite him into our situation. But once you pray about it, don’t stop there. Be expectant and watchful, and look for the answer in places that may go outside what you anticipate. God loves to surprise us, and he is able to move in hearts like no other. If you don’t see the answer right away or sense him guiding you in a specific direction, keep praying until you do.

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“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2)

Whatever you do, don’t isolate yourself. This is where the enemy attacks, and depression and anxiety thrive. This is because we were created for community and connection with others. Even God himself is a triune being, with each person in the trinity playing a unique and specific role.

Often, the person we need to hold us up during hard times is on just the other side of an awkward conversation or hug. When we invite others into our lives and allow them to see the struggles and imperfections, we give them the opportunity to love us where we are. We allow our relationships to go beyond the surface level and grow roots that run deep. But first we have to get past the facade. We have to move past the, “I’m fine,” and the “I’m busy.”

If you’re going through a difficult season right now and are still looking for community to help you get through it, don’t give up. It takes a special kind of person to look outside the blinders of the everyday and see what’s in the peripheral. But those people are still there. And once you find one, you’ll know it.

Written by: Abby McDonald

Abby McDonald is a writer and speaker whose passion is to help women find the hope of Christ in the middle of life’s messes. She is the author of Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God, and her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, (in)Courage, For Every Mom, and more. Abby lives with her husband, three children, and mischievous lab pup in the mountains of western Maryland. You can download “The Daughter’s Manifesto” as her free gift to you and connect with her at abbymcdonald.org.Share

Source: iBelieve

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