A couple months ago, on the first Sunday of the month, I stood up in front of the assembled group at Lewis County Manor to speak a few words of encouragement. You’d think I would have been thrilled about such a great gathering of folks who had joined together for a time of worship. And I was thrilled. To be honest, though, I must confess I was a bit disappointed, because as I looked around at the assembled group while I spoke, a couple people I expected to be there hadn’t shown up that day.
After I finished and we were singing a few more songs, I couldn’t help thinking through the possible reasons why these individuals hadn’t come that day. Perhaps they had decided a restful nap was more important. Maybe they had chosen recreation over service. Or perhaps lunch wasn’t sitting well in their stomachs. Either way I was disappointed they weren’t there and it distracted me from fully engaging in what we were gathered to do: worship God with our friends and neighbors at the Manor.
After we had wrapped up the worship assembly and visited with the residents, I asked one of our members if he knew why those two individuals weren’t there. “Oh yeah,” he said, “they went to visit one of our members who is home sick.” I think at that moment my heart simultaneously jumped for joy and fell in sorrow. I was overjoyed at the thought that Jesus’ servant spirit is such a part of the lives of these two people, that they would seek out opportunities to serve on their own time and by their own initiative. I was sorrowful at the realization that I had so easily become disappointed in the lack of commitment from my fellow Christ-followers when I should have been celebrating the depth of their commitment!
We who are members of a church family are no strangers to disappointment with one another. Yet it occurred to me that day that perhaps we ought to be a bit better about giving the benefit of the doubt to one another. That’s not to say there aren’t times where we should be disappointed with one another, for there are. But it is to say that in many ways, we would be a lot better off if we didn’t so quickly get disappointed with one another but instead gave each other the benefit of the doubt. I think next time I’m tempted to be disappointed, I’ll try to give the benefit of the doubt, because there’s no telling what God might be up to at any given moment in the lives of my brothers and sisters. And that is cause for celebration!