If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26a
Our dear friends Ron and Shelly Hamilton and family are suffering unspeakable grief. Their 34 year old son Jonathan died in tragic circumstances on Mother’s Day afternoon. This beloved family is giving testimony to the comfort that only God can give.
People’s natural responses to this news include sorrow, questions, and speculation. The God-glorifying response of those who are joined to Ron, Shelly, and family by union with Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13) is to suffer with them. That is, we take their pain upon ourselves as if their tragedy had happened to us.
The extremity of grief is an opportunity for the church to be the church, to do what the body of Christ does. The Hamiltons’ connection to the body of Christ includes not only our local church, but the greater church of Jesus Christ to which they have ministered for many years. The Spirit Who has united us will lead individuals and local churches to take the Hamiltons’ pain upon themselves and to embrace and support them in ways that impart grace into their lives. The present ordeal is a learning moment for us all, an occasion for Christ-followers to grow in our understanding and practice of “one anothering.”
As co-members of the body of Christ:
- We share in the joys and the heartbreaks of life together.
- We hold our dear ones up through unceasing prayer for superhuman strength, mega-doses of grace, and Spirit-fueled endurance.
- We communicate our support through acts of love, providing for material needs.
- We express words of comfort while understanding when space and privacy are needed.
- We do not stay silent just because we don’t know what to say. “I know words aren’t sufficient, but I want you to know I love you and am praying for you” is always appropriate.
- We do not ask hurting people questions for which there are no answers.
- We do not offer well-meaning platitudes for which there is no basis in Scriptural truth.
- We are patient and understanding when grief debilitates for a season and when a tragedy leaves its mark for a lifetime.
- We speak truth from God’s Word into the lives of those who grieve, not with a preachy tone, but to give them solid footing during a tumultuous experience.
We at Calvary Baptist of Simpsonville often recognize what a treasure we as a local church have in the Hamilton family. We also recognize they belong to the greater body and that God has opened many ministry opportunities to them. The door to greater ministry was opened through suffering when Ron lost his eye to cancer. His personal testimony and encouragement to others has been “Rejoice in the Lord.” May Ron and family receive an infusion of the grace of God now and in the days ahead to endure, trust, grow, and even, yes, rejoice in the Lord.
Pastor Dean Taylor