What Real Christian Community Looks Like in the Hardest of Times
- Shauna Shanks shaunashanks.com
- 2017 27 Jun
After Micah told me he wanted out of our marriage, the first person I went to was Micah’s Aunt Jan. I wanted to tell only a few people that I trusted and who I knew loved Micah as much as they loved me. He did not need people who were against him, but people who I hoped could offer him sound advice.
I also contacted Micah’s older half-sister Shannon to let her know that her brother had lost his ever-lovin’ mind and was trying to throw away his family. I was absolutely at the end of my rope with him and nothing I was doing seemed to be working. I thought if I was going to be replaced in the family, at least they should know.
I knew Micah had a lot of respect for both of these women, and since he wasn’t listening to me, I hoped he would at least pause for a minute and listen to one of them. And if he did not, then they at least should know what was going on.
I don’t really know what I expected out of Aunt Jan or Shannon when I told them. I was really just tattling on Micah to these members of his family that I knew might talk to him for me. I expected some shock at learning Micah was ending our marriage after a seemingly happy ten years, but also expected the usual response of, “let me know if you need anything.” I expected to spend a few moments crying on their shoulders before the news wore off, and then I would be on my own again.
What I expected is not what I got. God sent me an Aaron and a Hur, two spiritual stalwarts to fight beside me and hold me up when I grew weary. Who were Aaron and Hur? Their story is found in Exodus 17. The Amalekites had attacked Israel. As Joshua led the Israelites into battle, Moses, Aaron, and Hur went on top of a nearby hill. When Moses lifted up his hands, the Israelites would start winning the war. However, if Moses’s arms got tired and he lowered them, the Amalekites would begin to win. So Aaron and Hur held up Moses’s hands for him.
These two women would soon become my close companions, my Aaron and Hur. As soon as I told them my story—what Micah had said to me and what God had said—they were on the journey with me for the long haul. They held up my arms on many occasions. I will forever be humbled by God’s provision to me through them and the role they played in my battle. Any wins that were accomplished in that stage of my life and in any stage after, I credit to their obedience to God by offering their help to me.
These women took it upon themselves to check in on me often. During their own personal devotion time, God would intrude on my behalf and give them something for me. It seemed like my own little disaster had taken over their worlds too. They were on call for me. I could say, “I need you! Cancel your plans.” They would reply, “Okay, on my way now.”
But I did not need to ask for help often. I would be fighting off doubt and my phone would beep with the Scripture that I needed to fight it off. And I mean, silently fighting. They could not have known at that moment that I needed the encouragement. They could not have known how spot-on they were. They became true extensions of God to me in my battle.
This happened so many times that if I felt discouraged or weak in the resolve God had given me, I came to expect a correspondence or communication from one of them. This expectation came from a growing faith in God’s faithfulness to me. I knew he would not give me more than I could bear. Instead, God gave me what I needed each step of the way.
One day I stumbled across 1 Corinthians 12:26: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
I had never experienced this kind of Christian community before. More often than not, people are just too busy for each other. We feel that our own problems or agendas are reason enough not to be bothered with the problems of others. Plainly stated, we are self-absorbed and self-consumed. We are much too preoccupied to pour into another person or even make much room in our brains to think much about someone else.
Although the healing itself came from God, the comfort in that time was provided to me in part through people. They provided encouragement and they were constant reminders of hope. The truth is, I don’t believe I could have done this alone. Their nearness taught me several lessons.
In that season of my life, I was wrecked. They were wrecked with me. I cried, and they cried with me. I couldn’t eat, and they were sick too. They laid hands on me and prayed over me. They believed with me and interceded for my husband and my family. They believed me when I told them that God had told me not to give up on my husband, and they made it their business to hold me to that.
There was one night in particular I was especially distraught. After having so much hope for my marriage, Micah told me again that he wanted to be with the other woman. I was such a mess. Shannon had just gotten a new kind of braces put on that day and her mouth was swollen and she could hardly even speak. She was in a lot of pain, yet through a bleeding mouth she still stumbled through hours of conversations and counsel with me that night.
Aunt Jan came over to clean my house and, as she called it, “alleviate triggers” that might add friction to our situation. She rubbed my back and my forehead and massaged my feet as she prayed with me. She brought me gifts, made me hot tea, and walked me through Scripture verses. I can still close my eyes and feel the calm she would bring to me.
I learned through Aunt Jan and Shannon what Christian community can be. I still feel honored even now to have shared in their friendship and to have been loved by them so selflessly. They had nothing to gain from comforting me in my darkest season, but they loved God so much, their love had turned outward. Their love for God had in turn created love and compassion for me.
My arms would surely have grown weak had it not been for God providing me another miracle: my people.
Shauna Shanks is a wife, mother, and entrepreneur. She started Smallfolk, a health food café, out of her passion for health and fitness. She graduated from Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas, with a focus on world missions. Shauna and her husband, Micah, who is a police officer, have been married for more than a decade, and they live with their three boys on an Ohio farm. www.shaunashanks.com
Image courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Halfpoint
Publication date: June 27, 2017