Last week, I got sick. Started with a scratchy throat as I was leaving swim class Wednesday night. I went to bed early, feeling more tired than usual, and woke up around midnight shaking with fever. It just went downhill from there. :( Today is the first day I've felt better (thank God! I don't think I could have stood one more day). My right ear is still completely closed up, and my left ear is about half, so I feel kind of "underwater," but otherwise, I feel up to tackling the giant pile of laundry, dishes, and chores that pile up when you spend five days in bed.
As much as I hated being sick, this experience has driven home a powerful truth: I am not alone. Something I knew, in my head, but something that really needed to be driven down deep into my heart until I took it for granted.
If this past year has been an exercise is learning that God will supply all my needs, the last month or so has been dedicated to adding the suffix "-and often He uses people in your life to do it." I was surprised at how many texts, emails, and Facebook messages I got from so many different people, telling me they were praying for me to bounce back quickly, and offering to do or get whatever I needed. If at any time I had run low on soup, meds, ice cream, clean laundry, whatever, I could have taken up any one of a dozen offers and been well taken care of. Even some people I didn't know well - someone, for instance, that I had babysat for once a long time ago! - contacted me to see what they could do.
I forget this sometimes: I am not alone. Gradually over the last year, this has changed to I am not alone, because God is with me, and this past week, it changed again, to I am not alone, because God is with me, and He's people. :)
God calls us into community for a myriad of reasons - to stretch us, to grow us, to heal us, to serve, to be served, but ultimately, to be blessed. When Jesus told us "that your joy may be full... love one another," He wasn't tying together two unrelated but divinely-linked concepts: He was simply pointing out a natural cause and effect. When we are invested in the lives of those around us, we multiply our capacity to experience joy. We "rejoice with those who rejoice" and are blessed - even (perhaps especially) if our own lives are experiencing the doldrums at the moment. We see God provide for another, and our faith that God has us, too, in His hand is strengthened. We watch as a beautiful love story unfolds, and we wait in anticipation for the one He's written for us to begin. Tragedy strikes, we fall to our knees, and are awestruck (and humbled) by God's intervening grace. Occasionally we are abandoned by our community, and we learn, once again, that hard truth: His grace is sufficient.
Either way, it is into community that we are called. We are his hands, his feet, his arms. We are the body.