This past Friday, my wife, Ellen, and I were planning to meet some good friends for dinner at 5:30 p.m., and then see a movie together after that. We were really looking forward to it! However, our plans changed in a moment when we received an urgent phone call from a friend before we left our house, a little after 5 p.m.
Our friend was very distraught because her fiance had stopped breathing. She had already called 911 for help. She was reaching out to us for additional support and prayer. Her fiance wasn't responding to the treatment he was receiving. She was scared, really scared! We headed out the door immediately, calling our other friends to tell them we needed to make a change in our plans for the evening.
Sadly, our friend's fiance did not survive a massive heart attack he experienced. His life ended suddenly, and very unexpectedly. A tragic death. We are finding it very hard to comprehend.
Ever since that night, I have been very contemplative about this whole episode, earnestly praying for our friend (and her son) who have now lost someone very dear to them. As I have been reflecting on the events we experienced Friday night, I couldn't help but think about how the body works. When disease or pain strikes, our human body responds quickly.
I'm not a doctor or an immunologist, but here's my limited understanding of how the body works.
For our immune system to work, two things must happen. First, our body must recognize that it has been invaded, either by pathogens or toxins, or by some other outside threat. Second, the immune response must be activated quickly, before the invaders destroy many body tissue cells. There's also a lot of other reactions our human bodies generate, including the proper interaction of non-specific and specific defenses. The nonspecific defenses, like on our skin, do not identify the antigen (a substance capable of stimulating an immune response or reaction) that is attacking or potentially attacking the body; instead, these defenses simply react to the presence of what it identifies as something foreign. Often, the nonspecific defenses effectively destroy microorganisms. But, if these defenses prove ineffective, then the microorganisms manage to infect our tissues, and the specific defenses go into action. The specific defenses function by detecting the antigen in question and mounting a response that targets it for destruction.
That's a somewhat scientific explanation for how the body works. So, what does that have to do anything previously written?
Well, just as the human body works to protect us from diseases and pain, I believe the body of Christ responds similarly. As a matter of fact, I am a witness to how this transpired with our friend on Friday night. Let me explain.
On our way out of our driveway, we began calling several of our Christian friends who were also friends of our friend who was experiencing the crisis, imploring them to begin praying immediately for the whole situation. The body of Christ was beginning to recognize that something unwanted/unexpected had invaded our friend's life, and that she was in desperate need of prayer. Next, we quickly activated a plan to help navigate the details of the situation. We volunteered to go get our friend's son (who had arrived at his work place a short time ago) and take him to the hospital where our friend's fiance was being transported. Likewise, we asked our good friends (who we were supposed to be having dinner with) to head straight to the hospital, telling them that we would meet them there. Within the hour, twelve other friends assembled at the hospital and were there to comfort our friend and her son when they received the news that her fiance was gone. Before the night was over, more than twenty-five of us gathered at a friend's home to provide comfort and to our friend, praying for her, and asking God to ease her pain and bring her comfort. Several wonderful Christian friends volunteered to spend the night with our friend and her son, helping them cope with the shock and sadness of the situation when disbelief and pain were intense.
While none of us were able to alter the outcome of the sad situation with our presence and/or earnest prayers, I am so grateful to God that He gave us such a vivid picture of how the body works. The body of Christ, that is. It really is a beautiful thing...
We still have questions and don't completely understand why. We probably never will be able to comprehend why God in His infinite wisdom allowed this tragedy to happen, at least not this side of heaven. But, one important lesson I learned in the whole situation is this: Be grateful if you are surrounded by other Christian friends; in your time of need, the body of Christ will be there for you. Praise God for the body of Christ!
That's how the body works.