Rachael presented this message to a meeting at TBC, emphasizing the great privilege & blessing that belongs to the family of Christ in ministering to each other -- through prayers, cards, visits & other services of encouragement.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15)
That is the Lord’s command to us. One translation puts it this way; “Take part in the joy of those who are glad, and in the grief of those who are sorrowing.”
The last year has been one of both deep joy and deep sorrow for me. In February, Curt and I welcomed our sixth child into our home and our hearts, and in April, I said a long goodbye to the one who welcomed me into the world 34 years ago – my Mom. If someone had told me that’s how 2006 would begin, I would have been completely overwhelmed. But God’s grace is truly sufficient. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those in our fold who have been ministers of His grace to me through their kind and helpful words and through their prayers.
Taking part in each other’s lives involves many areas of ministry – that’s what tonight is about. Elizabeth Elliot says, “PRAYER is my highest privilege.” My sister Liz & I were both so inexpressibly grateful and humbled to know that our mom, dad, & brothers were being covered in prayer by many saints in this church who had never even met them. Your prayers strengthened our faith & encouraged our hearts even in the darkest days of Mom’s illness. Having a group of believers to call on in such a situation is an indescribable privilege, and we are witnesses to the goodness of God in answering those prayers… according to His perfect will… and for our ultimate good. Still today we see God sending answers from His throne room concerning our family, and we are so thankful that you chose to be a part of His work in our lives, through prayer.
Along with the gift of prayer, I received the blessing of many beautiful cards and notes of encouragement during Mom’s illness and in the days following her passing. This stack of cards represents the ministry of a caring family of believers to a sorrowing heart. Just receiving them, knowing that others were thinking about my family and praying for us, ministered to me. The words inside were powerful reminders of truths I knew, but needed to hear again. God’s timing always amazes me - how He can orchestrate the intentions of believers, the delays of life, and the workings of the Postal Service to send me just the right message, at just at the right time! And how awesome that we can be used - to speak truth and peace and comfort into someone’s heart - by the God of Truth, and Peace, and All Comfort.
I know I probably quote Elisabeth Elliot far too often, but her words perfectly convey one of the lessons I am hoping to learn through this trial. It is something I’ve seen in the example of some of the women sitting here tonight. She says, “The warmhearted Christian is not occupied with himself. He is free to be occupied with others.”
The warmhearted Christian woman is not occupied with herself. She is free to be occupied with others. To pray, to give, to encourage - to truly minister in the Spirit of Christ requires that we be preoccupied with Christ, and not ourselves. May that be true in my life, and in this ministry as God leads us forward.