Since May 20th, 2017, I’ve haven’t been able to fully swallow or breathe. I’ve been in and out of the ER and getting procedures done that until only very recently yielded conclusive results for a rare esophagus disease.
Long story short: it’s really sucked and God is really good.
One of the ways the Lord has been most good to me is through His Church. The body of Christ has loved me so well during this difficult time. Not a single day has gone by since May 20th without encouragement from my brothers and sisters. A single day! Texts, calls, prayers, cards, flowers, meals, and those who’ve sat and wept with me have comforted me beyond belief.
At my lowest point in July, I needed someone to sit with me every day for lunch to make sure I could swallow my food. Since my husband Brad was working full-time, I relied on the help of friends and family for lunch duty. I had one friend in particular who I had been leaning on often through this process. I remember apologizing to her for how my new disease was inconveniencing her. I’ll never forget her reply:
“Rachel, this is what the body of Christ is for.”
Before she said that, I had yet to see or feel or hear God since I became sick. Suddenly, I could see: every daily encouragement was orchestrated by God himself. The Lord was present; speaking to me, comforting and providing. He was doing it through His Church. Paul puts it this way in Galatians:
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (6:2)
It would be impossible if the full weight of bearing our burdens was on a single friend or family member, wouldn’t it? We know that to be true from experience when we’re asked to carry that weight or when we impose that responsibility on ourselves. We can’t be all things to all people! We weren’t created like that.
Thankfully those of us who have put our faith in Jesus’ atonement (Romans 10:9) have been adopted into a new family (Ephesians 1:5). Because of that, the bearing of our burdens have been dispersed into this family, making it possible by the strength that God supplies, to serve one another well in times of need with the unique gifts we’ve been given.
Grace given, grace received; Love usher’s love
Sister, are you in a desert season? Have you felt far from God or like He is at a distance lately? Let me lean in close and assure you: He is with you and has not forgotten you. I wonder if you need to look no further than to the believers in your life right now to see that is true.
If you’re the type of person who hates asking for help (preaching to the choir here) please hear this truth: You are blessing others when you ask for help. It provides them an opportunity to serve and by doing so, grow in Christlikeness. Lately I’ve been saying things like this aloud to myself:
“I am not a burden. This is what the body of Christ is for! I will ask for help because not only is it okay to not have it all together right now, but I know the truth is I’m blessing my neighbor in the process.”
I highly recommend re-reading that out loud. It will feel all sorts of funny and weird and clumsy at first. But I can testify that this type of soul-preaching prayer the psalmists teach us is extremely helpful.
The next time we’re serving others let’s remember what a sacred privilege it is to extend the very grace and love of the Father directly to them. Our generosity, encouragement, prayers, and presence is the precious nearness of God manifested in their life. What an honor!
Finally, I must mention there is both a blessing in seeing God move through one another and a danger in idolizing the Church in the process. We must remember, the body of Christ is His beautiful Bride (Ephesians 5:25-27), but not our Beloved. May we never hold to her tighter than our Bridegroom or replace our First Love for her. Instead, may we rejoice in Him with greater affection as we see His loving hand move through her towards us.