I’m not Ironing the Preacher’s Shirts today. I probably won’t tomorrow either. I‘m not on strike. I’m not upset. My over-loaded ironing basket beckons. My iron works just fine, and I even have a brand new ironing board I’m eager to try out. But I can’t.
I broke my right index finger two days ago. I did a royal job of it, too. Bone chip and all. It started with an entire bowl of spaghettios upside down and spread wide across the great room carpeting. When babysitting grandchildren, those things are expected. What I didn’t expect was for my husband to call right then to see how my day was going. That made me laugh.
However, I didn’t realize how much I’d need that chuckle until about two minutes into our conversation. There I knelt, picking up the tomatoey mess, consoling a distraught toddler, scrubbing the carpet, and talking with my husband — all at once! I guess I was putting fervent effort into that scrubbing, because, all of a sudden, I heard a snap as the tip of my finger turned flat and backwards under my hand. My next words were directed to my husband: “Please tell me I didn’t just break my finger.” Like he’d know over the phone?
(I feel compelled to describe the entire scenario because I feel ridiculous simply telling you I broke my finger cleaning up spilled spaghettios! 😆)
I’ve been waiting two days to see a surgeon. Meanwhile, it hurts. Don’t worry. This is not a plea for sympathy. As a matter of fact, I’d rather fade into the woodwork with my track record of injuries. But I’ve learned a lesson through this latest dilemma, and I’d like to share it with you.
It’s simple. When you break a finger, the pain doesn’t stay in the finger. It travels.
When I arrived at the doctors’s office – about seven hours after the injury – I was aching clear up to my elbow, and at times, up to my shoulder. Strange reaction, it seemed to me. But the truth is this: other parts of my body suffered when I hurt my finger.
My finger swelled and throbbed, a couple other fingers swelled, my wrist hurt, the muscles above and below my elbow became miserably achy. Later, my other hand cramped from doing jobs usually performed by my right hand.
Oh, what a clear example this became to me of the Church, the Body of Christ. When one member hurts, others hurt alongside him. We feel for him. The hurt, the agony, the sting. And we come to his aid in any way we can.
Some can sympathize; others, who’ve endured similar trials, can empathize. Regardless, it is the responsibility of the Church to notice the hurts of its members and respond appropriately. Kind words, spoken or written; encouraging verses of Scripture; prayer; physical or, if possible, financial assistance; help with mundane routines or other responsibilities; warm meals provided; quiet abiding with a hurting friend – all are ways of sharing the burdens of others.
For many years, I’ve loved the truth of Hebrews 13:3. “Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity as being yourselves in the body.”
In other words, I am to feel my brother or sister’s burden. I am to “weep with them that weep.” It encourages me to remember the trials I experience prepare me to more fully understand others’ feelings when they suffer.
I admit finding it too easy to glibly list the needs of others when I pray. But the Bible way of praying for my friends and family goes much deeper. I’m to pray as if their pain were my own. Like my dad had the cancer. Like my husband lost his job. As if my child were seriously ill. Like my daughter were lost. Or my checkbook couldn’t provide groceries for my family. Or my heart had just been broken.
That’s when the true work of prayer is done. That’s how my Lord prays for me. He is “touched with the feeling of my infirmities.” Hebrews 4:15 He understands, and He cares.
Today, my finger hurts.
But I hope it will affect my knees as they bend to pray tonight.
“The effectual fervent prayer
of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16