There’s a little verse tucked away in the book of Proverbs that offers a lot of wisdom regarding our lives in this crazy, mixed up, COVID-influenced world.
“Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend,
and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity [when disaster strikes you].
Better is a neighbor who is near
than a brother who is far away.
Proverbs 27: 10 (ESV)
The author isn’t telling us to abandon our friends and relatives, but rather to understand the importance of having others nearby (neighbors) to whom we can go when things get rough – “in the day of your brokenness,” as another translation expresses it. “Better a nearby friend than a distant family” (the Message).
I’ve sometimes felt guilty – even angry and defensive – reading this verse. Having lived at least 4700 km away from home ever since I graduated from university, I’ve often yearned to be geographically closer to my family. So many special occasions were missed over the years… births, weddings, funerals, reunions, Christmases, graduations. And yet… in many ways, God softened the ache in my heart by providing others in the body of Christ who became, as it were, “family.” When accidents happened – like when our son was little and broke his arm and my husband was on a ministry trip; or when our son was a teenager and had an unexplained stroke-like incident and needed to be air-lifted to a neighboring country (and my husband was – you guessed it – on a ministry trip); or when my husband broke his collarbone and ribs a year ago here in Chiang Mai – it was those who lived nearby who came to our aid. Our families, although they would have wanted to help, were literally too far away to be able to provide any practical help.
That’s what building community is all about. Becoming family to one another… wherever we happen to be living… for however long we happen to be in a particular place. Reality dictates that THIS – the here and now – is where we need to focus our attention, where we need to come alongside those God is enabling us to be family to and with. It will never diminish or replace the close familial ties we have, but rather encourages us to embrace those He has put in our midst.
May we, CMCC family, be “better [to one another] than a brother who is far away.”
Stay safe! Stay healthy! STAY CONNECTED!
on behalf of the Pastoral Care Team (email@example.com)