Years ago when I found out a close family member was getting a divorce, Chris and I didn’t get along very well for about a week. A few years later when we heard about another family member getting a divorce, same thing. More recently, when some family friends were struggling in their home with children and parenting, we seemed to have a little bumpy patch.
I consider these struggles a sort of “Phantom Pain” because although they aren’t really happening in a very real way in our own natural lives, they are still happening and causing us pain in the supernatural since we all belong to the Body of Christ.
We’re all familiar with the Scriptures about how we are all the Body of Christ. But it’s just been in the last number of years that I have unquestionably experienced what that means and looks like.
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
+1 Corinthians 12:26
Chris and I not getting along well, perfectly coincided with the news of divorce in our families. Strife and turmoil in our home and parenting perfectly coincided with the strife and turmoil our friends were experiencing. I would imagine that if you could think of some of the more recent times of unusual stress or strain in your life, you might be able to recognize it coincided with stress and turmoil in someone else’s life who is close to you.
It’s so helpful to be able to recognize this pattern now because in this current season of hard that our family is finding itself in…I can see where it’s tied into the Body of Christ. And let me just say, other people don’t have to think or recognize their season of hard for it to have an effect on you.
The example of the divorces in our family was considered a good thing by those family members. But we know, marriage is not meant for divorce. That tearing apart of a union puts a strain on the rest of the Body. (And please, do not email me about reasons to get a divorce and the exceptions, etc. If this post bothers you, exit it. I’m not talking about you or your family or your situation. I’m talking about me.)
So why does the struggles of others affect us, aside from the fact that we one body in the Body of Christ? Because it reminds us to support and care for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
This makes for harmony among the members so that all the members care for each other.
+1 Corinthians 12:25
For so many people it would be easy to just pass on by the struggles of another. Not out of selfishness or neglect but because we all have our own stuff in life to deal with. And sometimes our own stuff makes us feel like our head is being held under water. But because supernaturally we’re all connected to the Body of Christ, we become more aware, even if only unintentionally and minutely, of the struggles and suffering of others.
This “how” is addressing, “How do we deal with the struggle?” Honestly, depending on your personality, determines how you deal with the suffering and struggle of another. A more sanguine personality will feel sorrow or pain for a moment, offer up a quick prayer, and move on. Again, not out of selfishness, it’s just how they are naturally wired.
A more melancholic temperament will have the natural tendency to try to absorb the pain of the others. Because of this, they have to be careful not to make that pain their own. Ask me how I know. A more melancholic personality also has to be careful not to become wrapped up in the problems of another for fear of unnecessary curiosity.
A choleric personality will want to step in and fix everything, even without being asked. And a phlegmatic personality may not even register anyone has a problem or doesn’t consider anything that big of a deal. Again, these are all observations based on natural tendency.
I think it’s important to pay attention to these “Phantom Pains” because otherwise, they can and will wreak havoc in our own lives. We live in a sinful, fallen world and the danger of succumbing to it is always a threat. There’s a reason the Scriptures tell us to put on the armor of God.
As I mentioned in the beginning, when family members were divorcing, it caused some unseen disruption in our own life. If we’re able to see things for that really are supernatural, we can double down in prayer for ourselves and others. If we don’t recognize it in the supernatural, it can be harmful to our own family.