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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, August 26, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Romans 12:1–8 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. (NRSV)

I’ve always liked the metaphor of the human body as the church body. Today I am struck by verses 4 and 5, especially in this season of life, several months into the quarantine of 2020.

I am reminded of a pain management technique I learned in grad school. Physical pain sites tend to steal our focus. Loud and dramatic, they can overtake our sense of self. Our professor encouraged us to widen our focus—extend our perception of ourselves to other parts. Reintegrate the body. My elbow hurts, but my hip does not; they are both part of me. My lungs are having a hard time, but my legs still carry me from place to place. My knee aches, but my veins still have blood flowing through them. 

It doesn’t end the pain, but it was amazing how the change of focus created possibility. We had new options for practice. I am not just my hip flexor, my elbow, or my lungs. When I reintegrate my injury into the rest of my body, I can emotionally function again. The pain does not define me. 

Reading verses 4 and 5 again, I ponder combining Paul’s metaphor and my professor’s technique. When I am consumed by my own personal pain sites (professional worries, relationship difficulties, or the daily malaise of quarantine living) I lose my connection to the whole. Isolation makes my problems my whole focus, and my misery increases. 

Throughout quarantine, every time I find a way to reintegrate myself into our church life, my problems become more manageable. Every worship service, prayer meeting, and small group meeting helps me remember I am part of a large body. The body is so much bigger than I; there are so many parts that I am connected to. My pain stops defining me. 

My problems don’t go away, but I gain options. I am more than I thought. I belong again. 

Dear God, please help me take pain from the center of my consciousness. Draw me back into the body. Reintegrate me into the whole. Amen. 

Written by Kat Evans, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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