October 29, 2019 | Joni and Friends | Christian Institute on Disability, Church Engagement, Inspiration

“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.”

1 Corinthians 12:26

The Bible says we together as Christians are like a body. We see this metaphor unpacked in several places. In 1 Corinthians 12:26 it says, “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” The connection between people as members of the Body of Christ should be like the connection of a human body.

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The other day I was working outside and stubbed my toereally badly. Was my response, “I feel sorry for you, toe” and then went on about my business? Because my toe is connected to me, I took off my shoe and sock, cleaned up the injury, bandaged it and then was careful to protect it until it healed. That is what you do when a part of your body is injured or is going through suffering.

We, however, seem to distance ourselves from people who are suffering. There are people in our lives from whom we cannot separate ourselves like close family members. Yet there are many others who are part of the Body of Christ who experience suffering that we are oblivious to. When I read the passage above about how when one part suffers all the parts suffer with it, my response is “No they don’t.” Those with disabilities, for example, are often segregated from us and we eschew responsibility towards them.

There is something to learn here about the sovereignty of God. If in his sovereignty, he permits your suffering, ostensibly to accomplish his purposes, because we are in a body together your experience of suffering is not just for you. Your suffering is for me as well. It is because we are connected through Christ, that God can accomplish his purposes in me through what happens to you. He can accomplish in each of us what he wants to through what happens to other body members.

When you go to the beach, you will gradually wade into the water to get used to the temperature until you are ultimately fully immersed. I think this is how we are to be with those who are suffering. We wade into their suffering. As we become more acclimated to it, hopefully our coming alongside of another helps them, but it also changes us. Your issue changes from your challenge to our challenge because we are connected as a body. If your challenge does not become my challenge, it indicates that there is something wrong with the body. If I do not feel my severely stubbed toe, that indicates a problem even worse than the injury.

Lessons fromThe Gospel in Hard Timesneed in part to be couched with a Body of Christ wide vision. If God’s sovereignty in my life is not difficult, does that mean that I just take my ease and build bigger barns as the rich fool did (Luke 12:16-21)? If God’s sovereignty in your life has not been difficult, it is likely that is so that you can enter the lives of others for whom God’s sovereignty has been difficult and come alongside of them. Blessed Christian, you are a part of a body and that body does have parts that are suffering. If you do not know them, you need to seek them out and find them. You are missing out on blessing the Body and experiencing God’s purposes for you.

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Written By – Jeff McNair

The Gospel in Hard Times

Resources to equip believers with a biblical perspective on hardship, suffering and disability.