In the Fall of 2013, my Nana- a true Proverbs 31 woman- had a terrible stroke. She couldn't talk, she couldn't move her right side, she couldn't eat, and she couldn't even swallow. We thought we had lost her; I have never been so scared. It was so hard to watch her struggle, in pain, and miserable.
She was in the hospital for a couple of weeks. The doctors were eventually able to remove the feeding tube, and by the grace and healing of God, Nana started to improve.
Now, a year and a half after that stroke, Nana is doing so much better. She can walk short distances with a walker, she can eat a normal meal, she has some movement back on her right side, and she can speak, though it is still hard to understand her sometimes. I am so proud of her. She has worked so hard and as God has been healing, she has also been doing what she can to improve.
But, I realized something recently... I am very angry. Not at God. Not at Nana. Not at her circumstances (well, maybe a little)... I am angry at the church she attended. Not just angry- I'm furious.
My Nana was a member of her church for 20 years. She was an integral part of the church and did all she could to help. But when Nana had her stroke, even though there are a couple hundred people who attend this certain church, I can count on my hands how many people have called, visited, or sent a card to her in the last year and a half.
What exactly is the church for, if not to be the hands and feet of Christ? To help the hurting, and show compassion to the broken-hearted. They have their dinners, their "ladies night out", their youth group outings, and there movie nights, but they can't go visit or check on a woman who nearly died and now has to sit in a wheel-chair all day? No! That's not ok. That is not godly. That is not what church is for.
I am so furious I cannot see straight. Every time I think about it I shake, my blood pressure rises, and I grind my teeth. But, I must forgive. God calls me to forgive. I cannot live my life embittered because of this. After-all, my Nana has already forgiven. She has let it go. So why shouldn't I.
Christ died on the cross and forgave me for all of my wrong doings- all of my impure thoughts, my selfish desires, my ungodly intentions. There are hundreds of things I could repent for every single day of my life, because I am a broken human being. So I have no right to condemn people for not being perfect- for letting someone slip through the cracks.
I forgive. I will let go with God's help and continue to forgive with God's help. But I do think that this can also serve as a lesson for the church. Be aware of your actions. I have all ideas that none of those church members meant to ignore my Nana's pain. They never once intended to hurt her; but they did. So, this is a moment that we as Christians, and as a body of believers, can look at what we are doing: Are we so focused on our fellowship and church events that we forget to help the needy and reach out to the hurting? Is there someone we are letting slip through the cracks who needs love, who needs to see that people care? Let's not just be aware; let's fix it!
And this is also a lesson for people to forgive. I can be angry all I want to, but then I am in sin. I am not sinning any less than the people I am angry at if I refuse to forgive. It's simply a different kind of sin. So let go. Forgive.
No one is perfect. No church is perfect. And honestly, I feel very confident that most of the people in that church are terrific people. I know some of them personally and they are people that I love and admire. They are people who go to great lengths to serve the Lord and glorify Him. They aren't bad people. They simply missed the mark on this one.
Some people will read this and think "see, that is why I don't go to church"...but that isn't right either. We don't need to end church. We need to reform it. We need to recognize the flaws and correct them; not just reject church as bad and stop going. God called us to fellowship in a body of believers, even though he knew how broken and sinful we all are. He gave this command for our own good. We need each other. So we cannot use our hurt as an excuse to reject the organized church; instead, we need to be willing to examine ourselves and ask the tough questions: what can I do better? What/who am I over-looking? Who am I not forgiving? Who is hurting right in front of my eyes? And after we ask those questions, the next question to follow should be, "God, how can I help? What can I do? Show me, God in Heaven!".
These are the lessons I learned from being a furious Christian. Now it's time to forgive. It's time to let go. It's time to examine. And it's time to correct what's broken.