This morning before I arrived to work, things were just as they usually are; I turned my computer on and did my usually morning routine. Today was going to be an exciting day because it was going to be the yearly staff/faculty appreciation brunch. Dream Team extravaganza plus some awards recognizing members of our community for all of their hard work. However, things were different. There was food but there was no celebration. There were no awards. The air in general was very heavy and mournful.
Right before the brunch, we received notice that one of our faculty members passed away unexpectedly. He was very young and leaves behind a wife and a baby due in July. I have never really met him and I don’t think I’ve ever spoken a word to him. So why does my heart mourn so greatly for this loss?
Like I mentioned before, there was no award ceremony. Instead, we did what we always do when tragedy strikes, whether it be a fire that rages through the campus or we mourn the loss of a community member: we used the time to pray. We listened to psalms (Psalm 46 seemed to lift everyone up), we prayed out loud and in silence with those at our table, and as we always do, we sang our college hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness“.
It doesn’t seem like much but it made all the difference. In this time of prayer, I reflected upon this community that I’ve been a part of for five years. I may not know every single member but we are all undoubtedly connected to one another. I mourn the loss of a brother who has impacted the lives of others in this community. I may have not experienced it first hand but I have experienced the fruit of faith in those that I know who have encountered him. Our actions have greater impact that we realize. The joys of one is the joy of all and the same is with sorrow. In whatever we experience, we are not built to experience it on our own.
God created us not to be alone. We read in Genesis that God said it’s not good for man to be alone (Gen 2:18). We need others to hold us accountable. We need others to comfort us and be our strength when we have none. We need to find that light of hope in others when we feel that it has been extinguished in ourselves.
I cannot completely describe in words the peace and joy of God that I felt being in a room of brothers and sisters in Christ, united in prayer and faith. I don’t know if I could ever stand to suffer any loss without the support of my family and friends. God is right (as usual) in saying that it’s not good for us to be alone. Praise God that He knows better.
I know that some people like to say that they don’t need to go to church because they can just pray to God from wherever they are and whenever they want. This is very true but we lose one of the most important parts of our faith: community. We are not made to journey through faith alone. Imagine taking a trip across the world without a map (made by those who have gone before you) and without a soul to carry you (drivers, pilots) or guide you. Seems nearly impossible right?
Although the heart of our faith is a personal and intimate relationship with Christ, we sometimes needs some help from others to show us how to love. We look to the saints, the faithful who have gone before us, to see the path that they have walked and paved. We look to our family and friends to be the guides who give us their personal accounts of where to go and what to avoid on this journey. We join in with our congregation on the journey to provide for our needs when we are lacking and to pray for us when we have no words to say.
If you’re experiencing a difficult time right now, whether it be work, school, friends or family, share it with someone. If you have some amazing news and you’re the happiest person in the world, share it also. We are all the body of Christ and we all are necessary. Even if you seem weak or lacking, the rest of the body will be there to lift you up (1 Corinthians 12).
My dear brothers and sisters, I love you all and I thank God for your presence in my life, whether I know you well or not. Reach out to one another as God reaches out to us. Do not be afraid to show the love of Christ to a brother or sister that you have never met. God is with us always and may His peace be ever with you all!