Seeing God in Each Other’s Pain
Like many churches these days, ours is small, averaging less than 100 in Sunday morning attendance.
Since many don’t return on Wednesday evenings for Bible study and sermon discussions, the midweek sessions are indeed a small group.
Yet on a recent Wednesday night, when my wife and I were leading the discussion, I was delighted there were less than a dozen people there.
Any larger and I doubt those who came would have opened up as much as they did.
The Lord’s Provision
It started off like most other Bible studies. This night, we reflected on our pastor’s latest sermon, part of a series he’s preaching on the book of Genesis.
One thing he mentioned the previous Sunday was the need to praise God for everything, but not worship the money or objects that He provides. He said that is something that helps avoid idolatry.
We posed two questions related to his comment:
- Of what God has provided (including family), what brings you the greatest joy in life?
- What obstacles do you face when it comes to living in a state of gratefulness?
What we didn’t expect was the outpouring of personal reflection those questions prompted.
People opened up as they shared deep emotions about their parents, children, families, and their pasts.
Without planning to, I found myself reflecting on the dreadful time our second-oldest daughter suddenly keeled off from a fatal heart attack 14 years ago.
As painful as that was, I told of how that week was also one of the sweetest I’ve ever known, primarily because of the way our family pulled together to comfort each other.
“Imagine living in a dysfunctional family, where death only further separates people because there is no closeness,” I said. “You would feel lonelier than ever because there are no close relationships to draw you together.”
Touching the Heart
At one point, a man who spent many years in prison got up and walked outside. When he came back, he said he’d had to take a break.
Listening to others share about what their loved ones meant to them just got to him, he said. He had to go outside and walk around as he reflected on those comments.
When another man shared about something painful from his past—which none of us were previously aware of—he suddenly broke into tears.
Somewhat embarrassed, he apologized for crying. Everyone assured him there was nothing wrong with that, because that’s why we were there.
I attribute such sharing to the awesome work of the Holy Spirit, not our brilliance. Seeing God at work is more powerful than anything humans can invent, including AI devices.
God at Work
The strength of the body of Christ comes from sharing life together. Namely, caring for each other, praying for each other, consoling each other, discipling each other, and helping each other through this challenge called life.
It’s not found sitting in a meeting on Sunday morning, whether there are several dozen or several thousand there.
Near the end of our time, the former prison inmate made a remark so moving I wrote it down to make I didn’t forget it: “We are to connect in our weaknesses rather than boast about our strengths.”
As the old saying goes: That’ll preach.