When we have the opportunity to specifically watch God at work around us it is a time of wonderment. Yesterday, a fellow pastor and I had the opportunity to talk with an elderly couple that is experiencing a very difficult time right now. They have been married for 56 years and have both been followers of Jesus Christ for a long time. They talked much about their love for Christ and how much He has done for them. She is now suffering from dementia and he is struggling to care for her as he cares for his own heart that is filled with grief.
I had the opportunity to see God’s faithfulness in this situation as they talked of how God had sustained them so many times over the years. We talked of how even now He is teaching them perseverance and how to depend upon Him. We spoke of the hope that we have that what we see and experience now is not all that will be. We celebrated our hope of the restoration that is coming at the resurrection. And, we marveled at how good God had been in giving them children and grandchildren that are followers of Jesus as a product of their long-term, God-honoring marriage.
Yet, there was sadness and a lesson to be learned. I asked them if they were members of our church. Here’s what he said, “Well, we are members in the sense that we are a part of the redeemed of Christ, but in the sense that we have signed a piece of paper to join this church, no.” I don’t think he really understood the importance of covenanting with a group of local believers. It is much more than just signing one’s name to a piece of paper. We prayed for her physical healing, but what I heard as the greatest need was their need for Godly company, care and encouragement. This man was lonely. His dear wife of so many years, while physically present, is beginning to fade away. It is no doubt that his heart would be filled with sorrow. Sorrow that needs to be shared with someone else who can help carry this burden. It reminded me of Paul’s call to authentic love and genuine community in Romans 12. We are not meant to live disconnected from a community of faith. However, it is not enough to just show up at a weekly service. The connection is more because we can remain disconnected even if we attend a service every single Sunday. God has created us relational beings because He is relational. He seeks us out for relationship. He has given the gift of His church as a place of community and support. Let us not miss His provision for one of our greatest needs -- relationship -- and may we honor Him by caring for others and allowing others to care for us.