I have a confession to make: fellowship is hard for me lately. My life these past 16 months could be described as unsteady and complicated. My instincts tell me to withdraw from people until I feel more steady and secure. Social pleasantries feel trite, and honest, nuanced answers are exhausting.
I know I am not the only one who feels this tension. So many dear friends have difficulties in their lives that don’t make for good small talk. They feel about as useful to the church as a clock without batteries. And the fact that they make it out at all is God’s grace.
It’s tempting to retreat from people in these times, but we must keep coming back because God warns us against quitting fellowship (Heb. 10:25). The opposite of our instinct is what we really need most, and when it comes down to it, our trials are not always about us. Sometimes we go through them for the sake of others.
The Importance of Struggling Church Members
The Apostle Paul describes the church as a living body whose head is Christ. Each individual is an essential part. Some parts of the body appear weaker or less visible and we are tempted to view them as less important. But Paul confronts this misconception in 1 Cor. 12:20-22:
…there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…
Against all logic, the weaker ones are “indispensable” to the church. When circumstances cripple you, your ministry may be smaller and less obvious to others, but your worth is not diminished. The church needs your weakness as much as you need its strength.
Practical Tips For Discouraged Hearts
Even the most resilient church members have bad days. Some days our hearts feel so fragile that we can’t bear the thought of rubbing up against the opinions of others. Three godly women advised me of what I might do in my circumstance. Here are their suggestions:
This advice has helped me to be part of church life even on days when I’m struggling. In my experience, the times that I wanted to fellowship the least I often benefited the most or had a surprising opportunity to speak into someone’s life. What God is teaching me in my struggles is often the exact thing that someone else needs to hear.
But it is also important to admit our limitations. Pride makes us hate to admit neediness of any kind, but the truth is, we need each other and ultimately, we need Christ. And sometimes our weakness offers the perfect vantage point to encourage those around us in the Lord.
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