Note: This is a repost from Aug, 2011
If you live long enough and interact with enough people you will eventually be in the place of ministering to those who are suffering. Nothing will prove the body of Christ more effective nor bring about greater disappointment than how the body reacts to such members.
This past summer I began a ministry through the book of Job. Job is the quintessential book on suffering. The majority of the book deals with the discussions between Job and his three friends. The initial compassion of Job’s friends is truly commendable. They first of all desire to be with Job. They secondly desire to enter into his sorrows and to mingle their tears with his. They thirdly determine to comfort Job. They desire that truth will be a blotter to Job’s tears. In these desires they do well. Where they derail is in their making dogmatic assertions without all the evidence. In dealing with this section my mind ran to some counsel I offered years ago to aiding others in dealing with grief. This was born out of being on the receiving end of those who sought to minister to me and my wife in the loss of a child. The counsel I gave then involved having swift feet to come to be in the presence of those who are grieving. Secondly to have long arms to embrace the one who is grieving. Thirdly to have busy hands to meet the practical needs of the one who is grieving. Fourthly to have bent knees to interceed for the one who is grieving. Fifthly to have large ears to listen to the one who is grieving. Finally to have a small and well guarded mouth to speak to the one who is grieving. The temptation to ‘explain’ what God is doing and to quickly end the pain of the suffering can cause us to derail as quickly as Job’s well intentioned friends did. May God help us to fulfill the true meaning of the body of Christ unto the end that when one member suffers all the members suffer with him.
If you were to ask the average Christian to speak of their spiritual heroes it would be common for them to bring forth the names of great pastors, preachers, and missionaries who have served faithfully and well in the Kingdom in the past or present. They buy the books, listen to the sermons, follow the tweets, and read the biographies of these esteemed men and women. I want to tell you bit about some of my heroes. Many of them have never preached and certainly have not written popular books or blogs. They have never spoken at conferences. With the exception of a few dozen fellow churchmen, they are unknown in the wider Christian world. My heroes consists by and large of the men and women of my church. They are the faithful plodders of God’s Kingdom. They love the worship of God and the ministry of His Word. They work long hours in their spheres of labor, in the home and out of the home and yet make it a priority to come to services of worship and the times of prayer. They have full schedules, are often weary and yet they come, not to be served, but, like their Master, to serve. Some of my heroes face crippling diseases and have battled through crushingly dark providences. I’ve seen them lose their jobs, lose their children, and their spouses. I’ve seen the cost they pay to simply follow Christ. I’ve seen men and women persevere when loved ones turn back to the world. I’ve seen them bear with the faults and sins of others. Their elders have at times disappointed them, their brothers and sisters have let them down. Yet, they show a love that covers a multitude of sins. They exemplify what it means to bear with one another and to bear one another’s burdens. Unlike the heroes of the church or the heroes of our culture, they do not preach, they do not travel to foreign lands, they are not strange visitors from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man, they do not cling to walls or fly through the sky. But they are my heroes, and one day, the King of Kings will say to them before the whole world, Well done!