March 29, 2023

You Are the Body of Christ

Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. 

— Teresa of Avila

Despite being an introvert, one of the things I’ve come to value most in life is community. I’ve become convinced that God does his greatest works through relationship. (Read Community Matters) I guess this shouldn’t really come as a surprise since God himself exists in loving relationship within the Trinity.

When our family moved to North Carolina nearly five years ago, we felt the Lord say he was bringing us here for community. Not that we didn’t have a community of people we loved in our previous homes, but it seemed like God was asking us to go deeper. As hard as it was to build community during Covid, we have been intentional about forming close relationships in our new home. This means sharing in people’s lives through their ups and downs.

For the last few weeks, several of those who are dear to us have been struggling with significant issues from illness to loss. My heart aches as I witness their pain. While I don’t want to carry burdens I’m not intended to carry, I do want to help lighten the burdens of those around me.

Galatians 6:2 tells us “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” What is the law of Christ? Scripture doesn’t say explicitly, but there is scholarly consensus that it can be found in Matthew 22:37-39. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

No one goes through life without experiencing trials, but our pain can be eased through the love of others. Even when we know that God is “an ever-present help in time of trouble” (Psalm 46:1), we still need the support of people around us. That’s why God puts us in community. His Body is his physical presence on earth. Healing may sometimes happen in solitude, but miracles multiply when we come together in love.

We often wish we could fix the problems that overwhelm those we love, but fixing isn’t usually what’s needed most. Some years ago, while battling chronic illness and trying to raise two young children with a husband in seminary, what I needed most was someone to listen, someone who had faith for me when I had none.

My husband knew he couldn’t fix my physical pain, but I’ll always remember the ways he helped lift my burden. When I couldn’t believe in a future without pain, he would simply say, in the words of Julian of Norwich, “All will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” I’m not sure why, but those quiet words always brought me peace.

One night, as the pain and fear overwhelmed me, he tucked a blanked around me and played a song by Sara Groves called, “It’s Going To Be Alright.” The lyrics felt like the prayer I needed.

I believe you’ll outlive this pain in you heart
And you’ll gain such a strength from what is tearing you apart
Oh I believe that

It’s going to be alright

I did not come here to offer you cliches
I will not pretend to know of all your pain
Just when you cannot, then I will hold out faith, for you

It’s going to be alright

God has called you to lighten someone’s burdens with your simple presence. He’s not asking you to move mountains, but merely to come beside someone and be a loving presence. As you share the gift of presence (which is truly Christ’s presence), not only will they be blessed, you will too. Ask God who in your life might need to hear you say, “It’s going to be alright.”

Listen to It’s Going to Be Alright

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