How about tomorrow?

Dear suffering Christian brother,

I am so sorry that I have not visited you for some years and that as your friends we have collectively let you suffer alone, largely, over the past five years. I realise now how much we have neglected you and I suddenly feel how much we’ve truly missed you as a church while you’ve been battling with chronic fatigue syndrome. We can’t begin to imagine, but it sounds like such a horrible sickness, and so crippling. And it saddens me even more to hear that your chronic condition has not improved, and may have even worsened.

We just wish that by God’s mercy you’d recover; and I do pray that none of us would give up praying to that end. But saving that, and while we wait, it is a gross failure on our part that we have allowed your prolonged absence from our church to go on for so long without regularly visiting you as your mates. You are our dear brother; our family. And so it must be all the more painful for you that we have not expressed that in our weekly church life; with common friendship and loyalty.

But we have been praying for you. We’ve been praying that God our Father would restore your health and give you back to us. And we’re thanking our Father in heaven that your faith has not failed; but your love for Christ has not wavered. We pray that by God’s power, Christ would fill you with his Spirit all the more through your suffering, so that your faith grows all the more, giving you the ability to rejoice and overflow with thankfulness, to the praise of his grace. You know that what might seem impossible to our minds is nonetheless possible for God, who loves to show his power in weakness.

We read Romans 5 in our small group last week, which as you know describes suffering as the soil of our Christian experience, producing the growth of the gospel in our lives, yielding the fruit of hope. And we pray that God would pour out into your heart his love by his Spirit, whom he has given you.

Brother, while we’ll never understand what you’ve been through, and what you continue to go through, it is so encouraging to us to hear how you have been hanging in there through such an awful long stint of sickness.

One thing you can do mate, like not many others I know, is add to your Christian resume, “outstanding demonstration of patience in long-suffering”.

We love you mate, and I can’t wait to visit you again soon. How about tomorrow?

Ps. And dear suffering sister and wife of my brother in Christ,

We’ve also all been so encouraged to see you at church each week, persevering through the last five years and pressing on in your faith. We can’t imagine what it must be like. But you are a great example to us all, and for that we thank you so much.

Our words above to your husband and our dear brother, and our prayers, are for you too. You’ve of course been suffering as a couple, as a family; and we pray also that God would pour out his love, now more than ever, into your heart too by the power of his Holy Spirit. And if by his mercy you have the strength and grace to forgive us, we will have all the more to thank God for.

We love you too, and thanks for taking such good care of our beloved brother.

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