Get Each Other's Backs!

9:26 AMHeather

My husband occasionally brings home paperbacks from Christian publishers that are sent to his company.  About three weeks ago, he brought home a stack, including one called Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal by Michael Kelley.  The little subtitle on the cover says, "A boy. Cancer.  and God."  I've referenced it here several times already.  I dove right in, and let me tell you, this is one impactful book.  The author tells the brutal truth about the walk his family had through his son's cancer.  I think I'll need to read it a second time.  Because honestly, there was so much to digest and ponder and consider.  And to be changed by.  

One of the saddest parts of their story--besides the obvious that their son was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2--is how alone they felt.  These God fearing, church going, normal people reached a point in their crisis where people "peeled off" from them, as the author says.  In the beginning, Michael and his wife were held up and encouraged by an outpouring of love.  But, their crisis was a marathon, not a sprint.  It lasted for years.  And, over time, friends pulled away.  Michael expresses that there were a handful of faithful friends who proved to be a treasure as they stuck it out to the very end, never giving up.  Never walking away.

This struck me.  For various reasons.  One of which is that it's an unfortunately true representation of what happens to people enduring trials--even within their own church families.  The very people who are disciples of Christ do indeed peel off after the initial outpouring.  I experienced this myself.  My dad was a pastor.  When he was first diagnosed with terminal cancer, there was a great outpouring.  But, his battle lasted eighteen months.  In his final weeks, it was he and mom and some family members.  Friends were long gone.  And as a teenager facing the loss of my dad, my friends quickly grew impatient with my suffering.  

I get it.  It's hard.  It's painful.  I got it then.  I get it now.  It's an incredibly hard ministry to get someone's back through a long and difficult journey.  It's not convenient.  It's not fun.  And, we are, after all, very busy people.  So we grow impatient with walking through the trenches with someone.  Heck, we grow impatient with walking through our OWN trenches. 

But, let me tell you something.  Getting each other's backs is not optional.  I don't mean to sound harsh.  But, this is the truth of our command as believers.  Jesus didn't tell us that as long as it felt good or was convenient, we should bear each other's burdens and grieve with each other.  

Nope.  Not at all.  It's a command.  A directive.  Not a suggestion.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:2

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mournRomans 12:15

I don't see any loopholes here.  No clause that says as long as you have some free time, or as long as it's not too hard.  Trust me--I am not saying I have this down pat.  I'm preaching to myself here, too.  Because as much as I relished those who stayed in the mud with me during my own devastation (namely, my boyfriend who is now my husband), how quickly I can forget how lonely a road it can be. After the first round of casseroles and cards are received, I mean.

Glimpse of GRACEJust today, I am burdened by the fact that a family I know are sitting in a waiting room while their six-year-old has a life changing surgery.  Or a sweet friend walks a scary road of a child facing serious mental health issues.  And a darling young mom will soon face another heart surgery.   The needs are great.  The roads are long.  The pain is deep.  But, may I remind you of a Biblical word picture that points to our call to get each other's backs?  It's become one of my favorite Bible stories, found in Exodus 17:8-16.

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” 10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. 14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. 16 He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”

Friend, if you aren't in your own battle today, someone else is.  They are fighting a familiar enemy of grief, depression, and discouragement.  Their arms are growing tired.  Can we be Aaron and Hur and hold up their arms?  One on one side, one on the other?  Can we hold them up in prayer?  Because honestly--they may not want to talk to God right now.  But we can intercede for them.  Can we hold them up by sending them a note and Scripture?  Via text or e-mail or snail mail?  Can we hold them up by reaching out with a meal, a gift card, or running their errands?  

Can we challenge ourselves to be some of the precious few who sticks around and never stops praying?  I guarantee you this.  You will be blessed as you obey.  And someday you may be on the other side of this equation.   Let's choose obedience on this important aspect of following Christ.  Carry each other's burdens.  Every step of the way--all the way to the finish line.

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