You know when you are awakened from deep sleep by a phone call after midnight the news won't be desirable. That happened to us last night. A close friend was calling to tell us of the sudden death of another close friend's child. The past 20 hours have been ... full.
My heart is so heavy. Yet, the one thing that touched me the most overall has been the beauty of the Body of Christ. The bereft-beyond-words mother, her husband, the recently departed and beloved daughter, the extended family - - - all are believers. In addition, many loved ones from our community of faith surrounded our heartbroken friends. We prayed, shared stories, and some even sang. We anointed with oil, hugged tightly and wiped each other's tears.
"Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love. The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above." This is a line from an old hymn called, "Blest Be the Tie that Binds". It is the hymn we used to sing after we shared The Lord's Supper (a Baptist sacrament) at the little, old country church I attended as a child. Being with those who believe as you do and "doing life" with them is precious. We celebrate together; we mourn together.
The truth of this scripture below, the words of the apostle Paul, was evident today:
26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
1 Corinthians 12:26-27 (NIV)
1The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, a
2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV)
Jesus Christ is our High Priest, sitting and interceding on our behalf at the right hand of God the Father. The reference to anointing in verse 1 points to how Levitical priests were anointed for service before beginning their priesthoods. Jesus was anointed too - - by God the Father Himself. Isaiah reminds us that one of the main reasons Jesus came to Earth was to comfort those who mourn, who are brokenhearted. You may recall that, at the tomb of his dear friend, Lazarus, Jesus wept (John 11:35).
I am so thankful for a Savior who is not "far away", but whose Holy Spirit lives within the hearts of those who are His. In our deepest sorrow and in our wildest joys, He is always, ever-present with us. In both the Old and the New Testaments He has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5), no matter what.1 And, as His people, we are entrusted with the same mission He had - - to proclaim the good news to the poor in spirit and to love as He loved.
3He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3 NIV
Thank you, Lord Jesus! May your name be forever praised!