Missional community is great in the ideal. But what does it look like in the messiness of reality? Here’s a real-life example. A few weeks ago I received this email:
You may not know me & my wife, we have attended Coram Deo for about 2 years, once every two months or so (due to our work schedules) and have been attending an MC for about 6 months.
We have been married 6 years and have been trying to have children for the past 2 years. We recently broke the news that we were expecting our first child and all was well.
Today we found out that our child is dead, and my wife is painfully awaiting a miscarriage.
I am angry. I am sad. I do not understand why or how this is part of God’s plan. Part of me screams this is not fair. For so long I have been thankfully praying to God, and now I do not know what I should say to God. How can I be thankful, for what I see as almost cruelty?
I am a mess. My wife is a mess. We haven’t told our MC yet, it sounds odd but I can’t deal with that many people caring for us right now. I understand that these people love us more than we know, but we can barely get out of bed dealing with our grieving.
I don’t know if I am looking for advice, or someone to tell me suck it up. Either way please keep us in your prayers.
A loss like this is crushing and perplexing. Grieving in isolation only compounds the pain. So I gently suggested that this couple be honest with their missional community about the tragedy and their need for help and support. Five days later I received this update:
We took your advice and opened up to our MC. It’s hard. We are still hurting but are coming to terms. The message on Sunday helped us in the car ride home to understand that God is bigger than this. But we are still a mess.
Pastor Justin spoke at our MC this week, and it was pertinent to the topic at hand: how does a Gospel Community look, especially in regards to suffering? We understand that community can share a load of the suffering, and help with the strength to continue.
We feel love and support from our MC and it is a valuable source right now. I still am angry. My wife is still let down. But there is a trust in God that He loves us, and somehow that will get us through. I still have trouble seeing how all this fits into God’s big plan… But that could be said about a lot of things in life. I guess this is what Ecclesiastes is for.
This past week, a further update:
In this tragedy, we realized the depth of relationships we have at Coram Deo. Previously, we attended another church for awhile. We were fully saturated in this other church, perhaps overly saturated. And we had our roots in everything, but they were shallow roots of empty relationships. Aside from a few conversations before church, it felt like we were on our own.
But in this missional community, we are loved. We had daily calls. People from MC are bringing meals. Some were even offering just to sit with us in our confusion. Just to sit and not have to have the answers. Just sit. Never before have my wife & I felt so served, loved, and embraced into the love of Jesus Christ through His people.
We are not yet back to 100%, but we are on the road to recovery.
“Never before have [we] felt so served, loved, and embraced [by] Jesus Christ through His people.” That’s the line that grabbed me. When it functions as it should, missional community makes Jesus and his gospel tangible. Though his people, God comes near in situations where he seems distant.
Thanks, people of Coram Deo, for making God’s invisible kingdom visible.