I’m going to go ahead and rip off a band-aid: You can’t fix everything on your own. Eventually, you will need help. While that probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, some of us may need the reminder.

Our human nature is weak. Not only do we pull one another down on occasion, but we also share in each other’s pain and heartache. At times it can become too much to bear. I’ve been reminded of this personally many times. I know I can’t make anyone better on my own, but I still find myself trying to help. And while I may do some good, I never get to the core of their problems. So the result, at times, is that we feel emotional pain more strongly through others than experiencing it directly ourselves. When we experience stress and pain through others, it’s like “referred pain” in the human body.

Referred pain is the process by which pain is perceived at a location other than the origin of the painful stimulus. If we have painful stimuli in our body, sometimes the electrical signals bleed into other nerve pathways. This is why if we hit a finger, we might feel the pain down the whole arm, or why it feels so good to scratch an itch. The pain signals from scratching our skin override the itching temporarily because our neural pathways only carry so much of each signal at a time. Our physical bodies remind us that we are finite creatures. We have a limited capacity to feel, and we have limited energy. Just as our nerves remind us of our physical limits by causing us pain, so does mental and emotional pain remind us of our limits as well.

In many ways, the church Body is the same.

In First Corinthians, Paul likens the church to a body and the people to its different parts, each with their own role. In helping one another, we sometimes cause each other referred pain. We step on each other’s toes and we hurt for each other. When life takes a turn for the worse, we might find ourselves taking our suffering out on others. But we must remember that we are only a part of the Body, not the whole.

People have spent lifetimes of agony trying to fix themselves and each other, but it’s only when we realize our proper role in the Body that we can find peace. We must humble ourselves and remember that we cannot be effective tools on our own. But as a whole church Body, with the mind of Christ, we are fully equipped.

To quote a movie, one character encourages another by saying, “Why do we fall down? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up again.”

While that certainly has some truth in it, it doesn’t show the whole picture. If I were to take the liberty of changing it, I believe it would be more accurately stated this way, “We fall so we can learn to let God pick us back up again.” And I would add, “We feel each other’s pain so we are driven to seek His help for them”

I trust the Lord for myself, and for each of us, not only that we remember our limitations, but that we see them as an opportunity to work as a Body, and most importantly, an opportunity to be led by Christ.

Go in peace,

David