How big is God’s Kingdom when it comes to finding help, comfort, and support right now? So often, I thank God for the blessings that seem to come directly from Him. And when I take the time to think of it, I thank Him for the blessings that come from the hands of others, too. That dear friend of mine is a good person, I might say. She is generous to the core. In fact, she may be. But she is also a gift from God. The blessings we find in loved ones and strangers are gifts. They are providence, the hand of God reaching out to love us through others. The gift of love is a gift from God.
But what happens when the mantle is dropped and the person we expected to walk beside us cannot be found? Suddenly, the kingdom might seem small. In a dark moment, we may wonder if they were ever really by our side at all. Our sense of security in the church can seem to rise or fall on the faithfulness of one person or one moment that cut too deeply.
But the church is bigger than any one person, and it is not a fair-weather friend. We remember that the church is the body of Christ, and the head of the church is Christ. We can take comfort knowing that it is bigger than the person who didn’t come through. It is bigger than we are when we fail the ones we love. It may be that God has sent another to walk with us for a season, or a day, or a moment, just as He has sent us to bless others in ways we never knew we could. Belonging to the kingdom and having Christ in our relationships means we belong to a great, big family. And He walks with us and blesses us through people who are likely and unlikely to make an impact on our lives. He is where our help comes from, no matter who He uses.
I think of Paul. In about the year 60 A.D., he was in prison in Rome and wrote a letter to the Ephesians. In it, he praised God for the Christians he heard about and also for those faithful in Christ Jesus, the bigger body of the church. The body of Christ—even just knowing it was there—was an encouragement to him. Perhaps it’s possible he was even thinking of the Christians to come in the future, like us. Paul doesn’t give thanks to God for their perfect walk and how they never sinned. If he were focused on the Christians who always came through, he may never have written anything. Instead, he simply prays for them to know God more.
Often in my walk in Christ, I feel unspeakable joy at the reality of God and how He blesses us. But when my walk is tested, and I start to feel tired from trying to conquer the same old land, I want to look to my left and right and see the church is with me. If the one believer I expected to be there isn’t that day, I try to remember to thank God for the whole body of the church. We are members of God’s glorious and very big kingdom, the faithful in Christ Jesus everywhere and still to come! And I remember that I am not alone.
God has given us examples of every kind of Christian—mighty examples and wildly imperfect ones, young and old, friends and foreigners, generations past and the ones we hope are still to come. I can find the familiar face of Christ in these believers. And if one of them cannot walk with me today, I know there is another to pick it up. I know I have dropped the mantle many times myself. But Christ is unchanging. The victory is God’s. The church is His bride. And the privilege of knowing His people is truly a reason to give thanks.
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” Ephesians 1:13-15