By: Tim Sader
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. (Colossians 4:18)
Joseph Whitlock became my best friend fast I was drawn to his ability to see the positive in the most difficult of circumstances. Another thing about us was the fact we were both deal with life threatening diseases from birth. He has Juvenile Diabetes so we could relate on the struggles of our disabilities. Apart from him very few friends of mine could relate to what I had to face on a daily basis except for one week every summer when I went to MDA camp. Every camper had Muscular Dystrophy in common so all of a sudden we were with our people; the ones who knew our same struggles. Camp is a magical place where life wasn’t full of restrictions and anything we wanted to do there we were made able to do with just a little bit of help. We had swimming, boating, archery, fishing, horseback riding, water fights, a bon fire and a dance on the last night. Needing assistance wasn’t strange at camp because everyone had a counselor whose main purpose was to help us have fun and do what we couldn’t on our own. Often counselors worry about what their responsibilities will be but after one week they get hooked and return every year for decades. Sometimes counselors become close friends with campers and would request being partnered every year. When I started camp I still lived in Minnesota but my last six years were all here in South Carolina. Some of the volunteers who were there twenty-three years ago are still doing it now. At camp I felt like friends with everyone near my age but was closest to the guys in my cabin. Wade and another Joseph had my same type of MD called Duchennes, Bobby and Jerry have a less aggressive kind called Beckers. Bobby lived in the same town as me, we passed eachother in the halls at school but only became friends after meeting at summer camp. To this day we are the best of friends, he was even the best man in my wedding.
Like Paul we all need someone who knows our struggles or remembers our chains so to speak. Bobby has been one of those people in my life; he knows the struggles I face because in a slower progression he is facing them to. Something is to be said about gathering together with those who we can most relate to. This is why support groups work well because only someone with us in our chains can understand what we are going through. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were friends facing the same fate because of their strong faith in God. Without eachother I am not sure they would have had the courage to remain standing or make it through the fire. Together they were brave and with their unmoveable faith God was able to deliver them from the furnace (Dan. 3:19-21). The Lord hears the needy and doesn’t despise His people when they are in captivity (Ps. 69:33). When Paul and Silas messed up the fortune telling business they were striped, severely beaten with rods and thrown into prison. The jailer was told to watch them carefully so he locked them in the inner cell and put their feet in stocks. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing to the Lord while the other prisoners listened to them (Acts 16:22-25). These two were in the worst possible situation they could find themselves in but they managed to find the strength to pray and praise the Lord. Alone I am unsure that they would have reacted in such a way but they shared each other’s chains and they could remind one another to focus on the Lord. Bobby and I have shared our faith in Christ and this helped draw us closer to Him at every major struggle in our lives. We are going to deal with many kinds of chains in life but we should only be captives in Christ’s victory. We are the pleasing aroma of knowledge in Him to unbelievers who are still dead in their sins (2 Cor. 2:14-15). How we handle hard times is far better with those who see and remember our struggles. The people with us in captivity are the same as those who can point us to the Lord when we face difficulties in our lives.
Let us not be afraid or to full of pride for us to seek the support of those who know what it is like to be at the place we are in life. The reason early man formed tribes was so they could accomplish greater things. Retired people meet at Senior Centers, recovering alcoholics meet at AA, churches have small groups and disabled people attend support groups or charitable functions. We are best when we are united with those who share our struggles and our faith so that we can remember to always find hope in the Lord.
Lord it is my pray that you would surround me with the people who will most remember my chains and give me the courage needed to live a victorious life in Christ. Help us not forget the chains that people in our circles have been struggling with. Help us to be able to pray and sing to you even when we find ourselves shackled in whatever prison we are locked up in. Even when noone is on our team, Lord help us to remember you are there and in you we will be triumphant. In Jesus name, Amen.
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No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. Luke 8:16