There is no comfort so great as can be felt in the midst of the people of God.
I don't know how God does this, but I know He does. In the midst of the people of God He can bestow such comfort.
I am thinking today of my family in Texas. About this time two years ago, I was at a get-to-know-your-missionaries gathering in someone's home. I knew only a handful of the people, and only very casually, but we were all enjoying hearing how this family was planning to return to Africa to minister to health and spiritual needs there. During a break, my roommate called to check our home voicemail, and then called me over to listen.
The call was from my mother, and it was distraught. My 14-year-old cousin, the only son of my mother's brother, had just been hit by a truck...and killed.
I gasped, and when I felt my knees starting to go weak, leaned back against the kitchen cabinets and slid to the floor. I replayed the message to be sure I had heard correctly, made my apologies, and bolted for the door to rush home.
But in the driveway, I suddenly stopped. Where was I headed? I was 1000 miles from my family, so I couldn't go and help or comfort them. The thought in my head was to go home, but to what avail? And suddenly, I knew that what I wanted most was to walk back into that group of believers and pray with them.
I reentered the building and shared my desire with my hosts. This was a young group of people--mostly twenty-somethings, and I think that my request was pretty unusual to them. but they agreed. Even though I think some of that group was uncomfortable, even though most didn't pray, I found myself comforted just to be among the people of God as my heart cried out to him.
When I went to work the next day (I work at a church), the people of God there rallied around me in ways I had never imagined. And when I arrived in Texas, I found that the people of God there were buoying up my family.
It is a beautiful thing when the people of God behave as conduits for the Spirit of God. It is so amazing and healing and sustaining. And, I might add, when the people of God act instead from their old natures, it is more damaging than almost anything else that can happen to us.
As the old hymn says, I am so glad I'm a part of the family of God. I have spent most of my life in ministry, so it is no surprise that I have been deeply wounded and subsequently scarred by the Church. Yet, by God's grace, I see His hand at work in her...and I love her. She is uniquely commissioned and privileged to represent Christ on earth.
And when she does, it is the loveliest thing you will ever see.
Celebrating the work of the Spirit in the Body of Christ, to the praise of the Father,
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. --I John 4:7-12