Rejoicing And Grieving In Christ's Body

“Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda.” -Proverbs 25:20

Don’t sings songs to a heavy heart! The Bible sure does contain some profound wisdom. I don’t have to tell you how difficult it is to relate to those who are suffering. You probably have experienced the challenge yourself or even the failure of not knowing what to do or say to someone you care about. When caregivers and care-receivers where asked about the most challenging aspects of relating to those who are grieving, they came up with the following list (from p. 16 of Don’t Sing Songs To A Heavy Heart by Rev. Kenneth C. Haugk, Ph.D.).

1)      Knowing what to say to a hurting person

2)      Understanding, empathizing with, or validating someone’s struggles

3)      Talking too much, listening too little

4)      Having a “fix-it” mentality

5)      Feeling discomfort in the face of someone’s pain

6)      Focusing on self rather than the hurting person

7)      Wanting people to “get over it already”

8)      Avoiding painful subjects

9)      Avoiding hurting persons altogether

10)   Giving advice, being too directive

11)   Minimizing the significance of the pain or suffering

12)   Being judgmental

13)   Wanting to hear only the positive

14)   Responding with clichés, platitudes, or pat phrases

15)   Identifying too closely with the other person’s pain

16)   Feeling helpless

17)   Handling the anger of those who are suffering

18)   Knowing what would be intrusive or welcomed

19)   Getting people to open up

This is a formidable list for sure! But, where there is a challenge there also is an opportunity. The Bible also has some profound wisdom to answer the challenges above. In 1 Corinthians 12:26-27, St. Paul writes, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” Here, Paul reminds us that the most important thing we can offer is ourselves and our physical presence in the community of believers. God’s divine power works through us when we are gathered together in the name of Christ. The key word above is TOGETHER. Paul points to our presence together as the place where God works to heal and restore.

Don’t know what to say in any given situation? Listen to and pray for the person God has placed in your midst. Don’t know what to do? Be present and let God use you as His instrument. The key is our presence. God does the work through His Spirit. As Christians, we experience all of life TOGETHER. We rejoice together. We grieve together. We walk in faith together. God works His grace in us through the physical means of our presence.

I don’t have to tell you that there are some in our church who are rejoicing and some who are grieving over the voter’s decision to combine our Sunday services together into once worship service at 10 am. Some see it as a joyous new beginning to worship with the whole body of Christ and some see it as a loss. Wherever you may find yourself in this new beginning, I challenge you to remember Paul’s words, “If one member suffers, all suffer TOGETHER, if one member is honored, all rejoice TOGETHER.” I also challenge you to come and try the combined 10 am service if you are one who is grieving. Let the presence of your brothers and sisters be the medium of the Holy Spirit's divine work. There are some who are longing for your presence and to worship with you. Whether rejoicing or grieving, let God’s divine power work among us to restore and heal us as we live life together in Christ.

God Bless,

Pastor Joel