It happened a year ago. One year ago, my healthy, active, second-degree black belt husband underwent surgery. Somewhere along his life journey, his hip joint had grown misshapen and, through use, eventually tore his labrum (a sheath of cartilage covering the “ball” portion of your ball and socket hip joint). He needed surgery to repair the cartilage and to reshape the joint itself.

We planned accordingly. He took time off work. I cleared my calendar for a few days. Our kids traveled to Grandma’s for the week. We were set.

When the surgeon met me in the waiting room after the surgery was successfully completed, he said, “Things were a little worse in there than we’d expect for a 36-year-old.” With these fifteen words, our careful plans went up in smoke. An easy, two-week recovery time turned into several months of rehab, more time off work than anticipated, and a full-time caregiver role for me.

We needed the body of Christ.

I Corinthians 12:12, 26, and 27 says, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ … If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (NIV).

Our family found ourselves unable to perform the tasks we were supposed to do. We were the parts that were suffering. For much longer than anticipated, my husband—a pastor—couldn’t remain standing for ten minutes, let alone the time it takes to deliver a sermon or serve communion. He couldn’t make visits to the members of our congregation, participate in council meetings, or see to any of the other thousand duties of a pastor. My husband’s rehab took up much of my time and I fell behind on housework and laundry, until even making meals became hit or miss. Helpless to continue on our own, we turned to the body of Christ.

Often it is during a crisis that the body of Christ, the congregation of believers here on earth, really shines. When one member is hurting, everyone rallies to their aid. This is exactly how God designed us to operate. Ephesians 4:16 says, “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

We are created to work in community, building each other up in love. Each part, each person, has a role—a God-given gift to use for the benefit of the whole church. Some excel at administration, keeping everything running smoothly. For some, the gift of hospitality comes easy, and bringing meals and cleaning someone’s house brings joy to this group. For others, public speaking and relating to large groups is where God has gifted them—teaching and preaching is their best role. Joy and unity develop when each part, each one of us, work together for the good of the whole body.

My family and I needed the supporting ligaments of the whole body of Christ. We needed people to fill the pulpit for my husband. We needed help with making dinner and cleaning the house. We needed people to help keep things organized, both at church while my husband couldn’t be there, and at our home when I couldn’t keep up. During those long weeks, the concept of Christians being a body became real to me. When we suffered, they suffered, and when we rejoiced, they rejoiced. Each day I grew more and more grateful for the way God provided for our needs through his body here on earth

Now, one year later, the ligaments in my husband’s hip support him and hold his joint together, and the supporting ligaments of the body of Christ around us continue to grow and build each other up in love

How about you? How do you see the body of Christ surrounding you and holding you up? How are you being the hands and feet of Christ to others? If you haven’t experienced the body of Christ supporting you, what changes may be needed in your life to help you become more involved in a community of faith?