In the Bible people seem to match their names. It struck me that if we were to name our church for what people would see that ‘Church with a limp’ might be quite apt. And that would be biblically well founded.
In the Bible it’s not just Jacob who learns about God through suffering and has the permanent reminder of God’s grace through his limp. It’s Job, who though he is blessed still carries his grief as well as the things he has learnt about God. It’s Moses who’s learned through suffering as he has led the stubborn, stiff-necked, Israel. It’s Mary who learns what it means for the sword to pierce her own soul as well as the joy of being chosen by grace to bear the Son of God. It’s Peter who still bears the scars of his denial, it’s Paul who carries the guilt of the persecution years as well as the physical scars of his ministry for his Saviour.
In the Bible God teaches his people through suffering. No experience in wasted in the economy of God. God refines his people through suffering and that means so many of us come to church, we gather together, limping. Limping because of mental health struggles, long term chronic illness, guilt, abuse, ageing, divorce, grief, loss of work, disappointment, childlessness, fears and anxieties about our families and friends and so many more. It is a joy to see God at work both through and in the limping. We come poor in Spirit, we come thirty for righteousness, we come hungry for what only Jesus can provide.
So next time you go to church don’t try to hide the limp, don’t wallow in it and adopt a victim mentality either. But be honest with others about what God is teaching you as you limp on in following him. It’s not a badge of shame or of honour. But it is something God will use to teach us, to refine us, to drive us to him as our rock and redeemer, and if we allow him to encourage others as we limp to glory together.