During the 1980s, a singles’ class at our church became a close-knit family for many people who had lost a spouse through divorce or death. When someone needed to move, class members packed boxes, carried furniture, and provided food. Birthdays and holidays were no longer solitary events as faith and friendship merged into an ongoing relationship of encouragement. Many of those bonds forged during adversity three decades ago continue to flourish and sustain individuals and families today.
Paul’s letter to the followers of Jesus in Thessalonica paints a picture of life-giving relationships in God’s family. “We were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children” (1 Thess. 2:7). “For you remember, [brothers and sisters], our labor and toil . . . that we might not be a burden to any of you” (v.9). “We exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children” (v.11). Like mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters, Paul and his associates shared the gospel and their lives with these fellow believers who “had become dear” to them (v.8).
In God’s family of faith, He provides mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers for us. The Lord gives His joy as we share our lives together in His grace and love.