didn't decide to stop going to church.
I just missed a Sunday, then two.
I really didn't feel well, and I
was getting less and less out of
it. Now it's been six months. I'm
not sure if I am really missing
go when I can't even concentrate
on what is being said? I'm in so
much pain and it takes so much out
God must understand
was really disappointed in how people
responded to my illness: 'You must
not have enough faith,' 'you obviously
don't want to be healed since you
didn't come Wednesday night
Church just got too emotionally
draining. I couldn't go without
coming home in tears."
didn't have the energy to be involved
in anything but the church service,
so a lot of friendships just sorta
drifted away and church wasn't fun
been there. I've felt that way too.
We all have moments when getting
out of bed on a Sunday morning (especially
after trying to keep up with everyone
on Saturday) is less than appealing.
I've sat through many services,
waiting for God to show me why He
wanted me to come. I've felt lonely,
in pain, frustrated, and sometimes
even irritated. I've prayed, "Lord,
open my heart, help me focus, let
the pain subside so I can hear your
Word. Lord, my throat is too irritated
to sing, my legs too weak to stand,
my wrists too sore to even rotate
my hands toward you
I surrender it all."
then there are Sundays I crawl back
into bed and say, "Lord, I
just can't do it today."
How do we decide when to go to church
and when to give in and go back
to bed? When to change churches
and when to stick it out? And why
is it that Satan seems to attack
our bodies so hard Sunday mornings
about 8 a.m. in order for our spirit
to cave in and stay home?
to church won't make you a Christian
anymore than standing in a garage
will make you a car. But I encourage
you to give it your best attempt!
Get there! And if you can't
plan on other alternatives to
be spiritually fed. Hebrews
12:7 says, "Endure hardship
as discipline." Many Sunday
mornings will require discipline
on your part to get there, but
you will be blessed.
Just Don't Feel Well Enough
First, what is "well enough?"
Did you go somewhere yesterday that
has caused you to feel worse today?
Will you be going on outings the
other days this week? If Sunday
rolls around and you suddenly feel
"under the weather," you
can guess that Satan is attacking
your body to make you feel discouraged.
The last place he wants you is at
church where you will gain encouragement
and hope. The longer he can keep
you away from there the more likely
it is you will turn away from God.
you are having an overall physical
difficult season make some temporary
adjustments. You may want to attend
an evening service if you feel better
at night. Sign up to automatically
get the audio tapes of the service
and find a friend that will meet
with you weekly to discuss the sermon
and connect spiritually.
church has their entire church service
broadcast live on their website
Wednesdays and Sundays. If you're
church doesn't, join me at www.maranathachapel.org.
There are some Sundays I have sent
my husband out the door to church
and then curled up in my robe with
coffee in front of the computer
and 'joined him.' It's a temporary
solution, but one I feel is God-ordained.
you took the same excuses
that we use for not going
to church and apply them to
other important areas of life
you'd realize how inconsistent
we can be in our logic.
Not to Wash
was forced to as a child.
who make soap are only after
wash on special occasions
like Christmas and Easter.
who wash are hypocrites.
They think they are cleaner
than everyone else.
are so many different kinds
of soap, I can't decide
which one is best.
used to wash, but it got
boring so I stopped.
of my friends wash.
bathroom is never warm enough
in the winter or cool in
start washing when I get
older and dirtier.
can't spare the time.
Had My Feelings
Hurt Too Many Times
Okay, this is a big one. Research
has shown that most people leave
churches because of interpersonal
conflicts. First, evaluate your
own expectations. People aren't
perfect; only God is. It's likely
that no matter where you go to church
there are going to be a few well-intentioned
people that say something the wrong
way and your feelings are hurt.
It's not pretty. I've been there.
I've driven home from church before
in tears or even bursting with anger
about something someone said to
me that cut to the quick.
line: we can't change others. We
can only change ourselves and how
we respond. June's article on how
to help others understand your illness
may be helpful. By reading some
books that Rest Ministries has available
at The Comfort Zone, such as Struck
Down But Not Destroyed, you will
put your illness and other's responses
into a new perspective.
through your relationship with Christ,
however, will you learn how to respond
with loving-kindness (or at least
tactfully), gain wisdom in setting
boundaries, and know whose opinion
really matters. "Am I now trying
to win the approval of men, or of
God? Or am I trying to please men?
If I were still trying to please
men, I would not be a servant of
Christ," (Galations 1:10).
Can Be a Christian Without Going
True, however, Jesus emphasized
the importance of His church. The
Bible also emphasizes that regular
worship, Bible study, fellowship
with other believers, and service
to one another are important. And
the Bible warns against willful
and persistent rejection of God
(Hebrews 10:26). "The gratitude
and enthusiasm of a saving faith
leads us to want to thank and worship
Him, to hunger for knowledge of
truth, to desire a fellowship with
other believers. Active church involvement
provides an antidote to the culture.
Church is where faith is nurtured,
sustained, and will be a basis for
us sharing our faith with others
outside the church. Our faith moves
us to action, to love and serve
one another in words and in deeds"
you do not look forward to going
to church, the real issue may be
that you are attending (or not attending!)
the wrong church. Church is a place
where you go to be renewed, to serve
Christ, encourage and be encouraged
by other believers. God gives each
of us special gifts and yet if we
don't go to church, people are not
able to receive these gifts. Even
if you think you don't need church,
the church needs you!
a free download of 200 ways to reach
out to someone who is hurting from
Caseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage
a Chronically Ill Friend
when you sign up for hopenotes,
a monthly ezine. Author of this
article, Lisa Copen is also the
founder of Rest
Ministries and National
Invisible Illness Awareness Week.