After enjoying the benefits of being in community with others through one of our church’s small groups for a couple of years, my husband Cory and I decided to become small group leaders ourselves. By no means did we think we were qualified, but we were open to what God was doing in our hearts for people. We took the class required by our church and were excited about opening up our home to those who signed up for our group. Just like in other small groups we were a part of, the men, women and children in the group became more than just acquaintances…they became friends.
During the time we were serving as small group leaders, I received a voicemail from a woman in our group that concerned me. I couldn’t make out the words because she was sobbing; I called her back right away and when she answered, she told me that her adult child had been murdered. I immediately prayed and went to be by her side at the police station where her family and friends had gathered and were mourning.
Murder? Mourning? Confusion?
We knew becoming facilitators carried great responsibility, but we weren’t prepared for this!
How could we help my friend cope?
Romans 12:15 says: Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
We previously helped others who were going through tough times with prayer and encouragement, but this was different. Our hearts were broken over the news and we mourned with our sister-in-Christ for months following this tragic event.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 1:28-30
Scripture says that Jesus is the only one who can take on a heavy load such as mourning the loss of a loved one. As a natural burden bearer, I tried to take on the load of our friend as we walked with her in the most difficult times of her life. I wanted to take her pain; I wanted to carry her hurt. Eventually, I started to feel stress and anxiety whenever I was with her. Her burdens became my burdens; I was bearing a load that wasn’t mine to bear.
Jesus already carried our hurts, pain, and burdens.
Just as my friend did, I had to relinquish the weight of this to my heavenly Father. Once I did, I began to feel an overwhelming sense of love - His love - for her growing within me and my interactions with her got easier.
Today, even though we do not spend as much time with each other as we previously did, I’m thankful that I’ve had the privilege of being able to share friendship with this tender-hearted woman. It’s been several years since the tragedy; my prayer and hope is that she sensed God’s love and care through our early interactions and that I demonstrated His heart to a mourning mother.
I do believe that God connects us to people on this earth for a moment, a season, or even a lifetime.
I was so humbled to see how God connected each one of us through our small group for such a time as that.
This is what community is all about – being there for one another through the good times and bad.
Are you in a small group? What’s your experience been? Have you grown in relationship? Tell us here...
Diana Jones is a compassionate wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She is passionate about sharing God's love and all that He has done throughout her life. She is also looking for opportunities to grow spiritually through reading, prayer, singing and being in fellowship with others. She is thankful for the opportunity share her stories here at Circles of Faith.
photo credit/ sarah bryant / creation swap