Be prepared for the mess. Life groups are not always easy. When you do life with others, be prepared to go through trials with each other. There are moments of good but there are also some very difficult times as well.
In all the small groups I have been in, I saw 4 couples that thought they were infertile get pregnant. One couple in particular had given up hope and after 5 years resolved they wouldn’t get pregnant. Lo and behold they had a little baby girl 5 months ago that was a complete surprise. One guy who was divorced remarried and has a wonderful wife and little baby girl. Many many babies have been born. Job raises have occurred. The list could go on.
There have also been hard times, I have watched 4 couples struggle with infertility. I have witnessed numerous sets of multiples but also the loss of one. I saw another couple lose their son to cancer. In one small group, one guy’s step dad had committed suicide. Another time a girl thought she was miscarrying during our group. One of the guys in my small group went through a horrible divorce. Another couple struggled financially and had to move away for a different job. The list could go on here too.
It makes my heart heavy just thinking about those times.
My pastor has said before that compassion means “your tears on my face.” I love that because almost the only way for that to happen is with a hug. I know some people feel like they have to have magic words to say in times of loss but ultimately our job is just to sit and be quiet.
It makes me think of the story of Job. The Bible says Job was blameless and upright. He was blessed with a lot of children and a lot of wealth. He had 7 sons and 3 daughters, and he owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys and a large number of servants. The Lord gives Satan the opportunity to attack him and Job loses everything. He loses in a matter of minutes his kids, his wealth and finally his health. Even Job’s wife stops supporting him and tells him to “Curse God and die!” The scripture says in Job 2:10 “In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” What does Job do? He is sitting in a heap scraping at his open wounds. What do his friends do? Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar weep with him, tear their robes and sit on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. The Bible says, “No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” They are a small group offering support to their friend.
I wish the story stopped there but Job is miserable and they start trying to give him reasons why everything happened. I believe the friends were trying to help but their reasoning was incorrect. How many times do we start talking and giving reasons for why people experience hard times? What we need to do is offer hugs and just sit and be quiet. It is hard because we want to make sense of everything but in the end we don’t know the conversations of heaven just like Job didn’t know in Job chapters 1 and 2.
So as we experience the mess in life groups or other settings, our job is to do what it says in Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” We don’t have to solve things just be a support.