While traveling together, my wife and I started talking with a delightful young woman we met. The time passed quickly as we chatted about lighthearted topics.
But when she heard that I was a minister, the conversation took a heart-wrenching turn. She began to share with us that when her husband left her only a few months earlier, she had struggled with the pain of that abandonment.
Then she smiled and said, “I can’t tell you how much my church has meant to me these past months.” Her mood and countenance changed dramatically as she recounted the ways her church family had wrapped their loving arms around her in her season of heartache. It was refreshing to hear how that local assembly had surrounded her with the love of Christ.
Far too often, it seems, we limit the significance of church to what happens on Sunday. But the church is to be so much more. It is to be a safe haven, a rescue station, a training center for spiritual service. It is particularly to be an expression of the concerned heart of the Lord for hurting, broken people, such as our young friend.
We are to “love one another,” John the disciple reminded us, “for love is of God” (1 John 4:7).
It was only a brief little note,
Or a word that was prayerfully spoken,
Yet not in vain, for it soothed the pain
Of a heart that was nearly broken. —Anon.
Hope can be ignited by a spark of encouragement.