It was a terrifying drive to the doctor. My pregnant wife had accidentally eaten avocado, which she is severely allergic to. The last time she’d had avocado was before we’d met, when her slice of bread was buttered with the same knife that spread some avocado. She’d vomited for three days and was almost hospitalised.
So when she ate a sandwich at a Christian conference and then halfway through realised there was avocado in it, we were terrified. Surely that couldn’t be good for our baby! We were still in the first trimester, so not many people knew why we were so panicky and so quick to head to the doctor.
By God’s grace, there was no adverse reaction. But on the way back to the conference we agreed it would have been awful for people not to know. Imagine if she’d gotten sick, lost the baby, we’d mourned, and all the world would be completely oblivious to our pain. When we returned to the conference, we told our friends the great news; we were expecting a baby. And they rejoiced with us in the great news.
Paul urges us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). But do we give our church family the opportunity to do that? Do they know what’s happening in our lives? Are we open about our pains, or do we hide them away?
We now have two healthy children, and four with Jesus. For all of these pregnancies we announced to the world our joy, and received the joy of friends and family. And because of this, we needed to announce all our miscarriages. It was never easy to send those messages, or to post that status on Facebook. But always, we received the comfort from God’s people. The church stepped up, but only because we gave them the opportunity.
The church is sometimes accused of being full of phonies. Don’t be a phony. Share your joy, but also your pain. When it’s been a bad week, tell people. Be honest. Let the church actually love you. Be the antidote to that accusation.
And when things are worse than just a bad week, don’t be ashamed, don’t think you’re a burden. Let the church love you. Let them mourn with you. You’ll be surprised at how that impacts on others. As they see you being honest about life, they will be too. And you’ll have the same opportunity to weep with them, to love them with a genuine love. No longer will the church be filled merely with individuals, like ships passing in the night, commenting on the weather. It’ll be filled with a genuine loving community, who weep and rejoice with each other. It’ll be a place where the people point each other to Jesus, the Great Lover of our souls, who brings comfort and hope. And what a witness that will be to a pain-ridden world, determined to suffer alone.
Jesse Walz is married to Bec, and they have a three-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl. They attend Surrey Hills Presbyterian Church. Jesse is studying theology at PTC, and Bec is a stay-at-home mum.