Life is too hard to try and make it alone.
When my life drastically changed at the roll of an ankle, I wouldn't have made it if it hadn't been for the people who surrounded me. The phrase "being the hands and feet of Jesus" gets used a lot, but I've never seen it in practice like I've had the overwhelming joy of living in it for the past two years.
What comes to mind when you think of that phrase?
- Real hands?
- Real feet?
- Maybe just a metaphor?
In 1 Corinthians 12, Christ followers are described as parts of a body. It says that God placed every part in the body in just the way He wanted it...so that we could all work together as a unified whole. Hands that reach out. Feet that move.
It also says that when one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers with it.
Think about your own physical body, and how true that is. I mean, it's obvious that the whole body is affected when it takes a hard hit. Like when you have a knee injury that requires surgery and can't walk unassisted without months of painful rehab and a great deal of healing time. Your whole body notices. It hurts--and the pain is distracting. And you have to learn to adapt and adjust in order to keep moving and in order to heal.
But it's even true with the things that can seem small or that aren't visible from a distance. Like when your fingers are dry and cracked in the winter, and it's hard to ignore the twinge of pain whenever you touch anything. Or when you have a headache and it's difficult to focus on anything or even see straight. When one part of your body suffers, the whole body suffers with it.
My family and I were new to New York. New to our church. New to the Community Group we had joined. And still, the body of Christ surrounded us when we were suffering. They noticed. They felt our pain. And they carried us.
God placed people in our life, in a time when we needed them most, to be His hands and feet in such tangible ways.
But, sometimes I wonder what might have happened if I had tried to keep my suffering to myself. If we had tried to do life independently and stayed away from people so not to be "a burden" to anyone. If I had tried not to ask for help when I needed it. If I hadn't stepped out (before I lost my footing to a merciless disease), and gotten involved with a community of people.
Because, I imagine, it would be difficult for a body to know that one of its parts was hurting if that part wasn't actually attached...
Do you have people in your life?
I'm not talking about acquaintances. I'm not talking about the people whose numbers are in your phone but whom you never have contact with. I'm talking about a community. Hands and feet. People you are intentional about doing life with. People you step towards and lean into and care about. People who can care about you because you're a part of their life. A part of their body. A part that they'd suffer with if it was suffering.
And it doesn't happen by accident.
We have to recognize our own need for being a part of the body, and we have to move in and become a part of it. Because then, when life happens to us (because it just does), we'll have people to be the hands and feet of Jesus to us in the ways we need them most. And when life happens to the people around us, we can step in be His hands and feet to them, too.
And it's hard. Because it means we have to be vulnerable. And sometimes uncomfortable. It means that you won't be able to hide.
But it means that you'll get to be vulnerable. And that it will be ok to be uncomfortable. And that you won't have to hide.
Because we weren't meant to do life alone. We can't. We were made for a body. Made to belong. Made to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
One body. Many parts. Working together as a whole. Needing each other. Being there for each other. Suffering together. Rejoicing together. Loving each other. Carrying each other.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
Some tangible ways you can move in and lean into the body:
- Join a Community Group near you if you're not already a part of one.
- Meet up with someone for coffee and share the real details of what's going on in your life.
- Ask God to show you who to try to spend more time with and build more of a relationship with.
- Ask someone how you can pray for them today (also a quick way to find out what their needs are so you can offer practical help if they need it).