For the body of Christ to be healthy we must depend on each part of the body. The church at Corinth seems to have demoralized those members whom they assumed were less gifted or hurting. Perhaps some of those struggling wondered whether they should even be regarded as part of the church body. Those of us who are hurting are reassured that the body has need of every part.
Every part must play its role, or the body won’t function as well as it could. It would be ridiculous if our whole body were one nose. Not only would it be gross but it also couldn’t walk or talk. Every one of us is different, and that’s a good thing. We are not all good at the same things. In the sport of cricket, the best bowlers are not any more valuable than the best batsman. In baseball you need both hitters and pitchers to have a successful team. In both sports the elders have to play well. All have a part to play.
This is why we continue being in community with God’s people all the days of our lives. When one part of the body leaves the body, the whole body hurts. The church needs you! Individual members cannot contract out the work; they must do their role for the good of the body. Romans 12:5 says, “In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Christianity is not a spectator sport. We don’t stay in the seats and watch other Christians get in the match. I recently watched all-time tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal play in the Australian Open final. It may be the last time these two greats play one another in a major championship. It was incredible to watch these two rivals. But nothing compares with actually playing the game yourself. Watching is fun, but nothing beats getting out on the court and playing your best.
You may feel as if you have nothing to give others—you are in so much pain, your trial is tremendous. You get exhausted by just getting yourself ready in the morning. But one of the best things you can do as you struggle in your trials is to serve others. This is what you were made to do. God made you to play your part. You were not an accident. In 1 Corinthians 12:18, we see that “God arranged the members of the body.” He put them together. God makes no mistakes; he created you just the way he wanted to. There was no casualty in creation. You may not feel as if you can serve in the way you would like to, but you are important to the health of the church. Sam Allberry gives this illustration in his book on the church:
“Take a pen, a piece of paper and a timer. How many times can you write your name in 30 seconds? Now try the same exercise but without using your hands. You can put the pen between your toes or hold it in your mouth. My guess is, you didn’t do so well the second time round. Once you remove certain parts of the body, even simple tasks get harder. It reminds us of how much those with disability deserve our admiration. And it also reminds us of what our church misses out on when we are not there—part of the body is missing. Your church needs you.”
When you reject Christ’s body, the whole church loses something. We need each other, and the wonderful fact is that the Lord has uniquely made you and can use you not in spite of your circumstances but because of your circumstances. This is a wonderful truth!
I’ve noticed that my nerve pain has given me a unique experience with chronic pain and disability that has allowed me to speak into people’s lives in profound ways. I had very little sympathy for others before I myself needed sympathy. Now I understand (at least a little bit more than I used to) the physical and emotional pain that comes with failing health. But what if I steered clear of the rest of Christ’s body? What if I saw my trial as a parenthesis or break in my church involvement and distanced myself from God’s people for a time? I would miss out on God using me. Hurting friend, God can use you in extraordinary ways. God has sovereignly ordained to use hurting people to comfort other hurting people. Paul writes:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:3–4).
Being unhealthy or struggling with some trial shouldn’t cause you to stop your church involvement. You shouldn’t think that you’ll get involved once you’re healthy. The church needs you now. I love seeing how one of our church members, Sneha, deals with extreme physical pain and yet works hard to join us for corporate worship even when she doesn’t feel well. Sneha understands that she needs the church now more than ever. And she’s a blessing to us. Even when she’s writhing in pain in her apartment, she will call church members to encourage and pray for them. Ladies will come to her apartment so that she can teach them the Bible. That’s what Paul is talking about when he says God comforts us so we can comfort others. The reassuring thing for those who are hurting is that God doesn’t cast us aside in our trials, but he is actually preparing us to be used in ways beyond what we could even imagine. Paul continues:
“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, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor. 12:21–26).
This is great news! Even when we are hurting and we may be weaker than the other parts, God uses us. Even when we may feel like we have nothing to give, what does Paul say to us? He says all parts are indispensable. Hurting friend, you are indispensable in the plan of God! The word weaker in this context actually has the idea of being sick. The meaning emphasizes the complete unimportance of the member. But Paul says, “We need those members!” The body of Christ can’t do without them. Paul writes that those parts actually deserve greater honor. It seems counterintuitive, but in God’s grand design, your trial might be the moment of your most significant ministry. Could that be the case in your life right now?
Content taken from Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your Trials by Dave Furman, ©2018. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.