I have mixed feelings about Meal Trains.  In recent weeks, I have had the privilege of setting up two, separate meal trains for women in my life who were facing seriously challenging situations.  To set up the Meal Train was {for me} quite simple- create the link and send it out so people can sign up to bring a meal to the person in need.  Providing a meal for someone is a practical and tangible expression of love and care.  Having the opportunity and ability to step into the hard and even a difficult journey of another person by bringing them a meal communicates, “I see you and I’m with you in this.”

However, last week, my friend texted me to ask if our Community Group could bring my family meals.  Now, let me tell you that no one has died in our family.  No one is terminally ill.  No one has undergone surgery.  So, my initial thought was to say, “Oh, we’re good, but thanks for thinking of us.”  But to be honest, these last few weeks have been hard for my family- emotionally and mentally.  Not that we are special or need recognition, but to have people in our life that recognize that sometimes, life is just hard and sometimes, we just need to know we are seen and cared for- it took me by surprise.   

For me, it has been so much easier to be on the giving end than the receiving end.  To respond to my friend and say, “Well.  Yeah.  Meals would actually be really helpful for me and the kids next week.” It was hard. To be on the receiving end of a Meal Train has humbled me.  It has reminded me of my neediness. 

The fact is- we live in a really hard world.  And if you are anything like me, we put on fronts that make us look like we have it all figured out- that we don’t need any help.   

And my friend’s text about a Meal Train for my family has been the Lord not letting me go on the importance and NEED for community and bearing each other’s burdens. 

I recently read the story of Jonathan going to attack the Philistines in 1 Samuel.  And for weeks now, I keep thinking about this story.  It’s on repeat in my head.  And it’s not Jonathan’s boldness or courage in pursuing the Philistines without his father, Saul, or Saul’s army that sticks with me.  It’s not the overwhelming situation of passing through the terrain with giant cliffs rising on either side- a great disadvantage in battle- that stands out.  It’s not even the fact that he was outnumbered going into battle, that I can’t forget… even though these are all details of the story that add great weight.  

The part that always stands out to me is who was with Jonathan.

Jonathan says to his young, armor bearer, “Come, LET’S go over to the Philistine outpost…”  He says, “LET’S go.”  Together. Not alone. But together, Jonathan and his armor bearer march into Philistine dominated territory.  They march into a hard and difficult situation.

What they were headed into was unsettling at least.  The situation bleak, impossible.   The odds were stacked against them.  It was likely overwhelming.  There were unknown outcomes.  They were facing GREAT uncertainty.

Anyone else been there lately?  Unsettling.  Impossible.  Odds stacked against you. Unknown outcomes. Overwhelmed. Uncertainty.

But.

The armor bearer went with Jonathan. Despite the daunting situation- the armor bearer went.  Side by side. Together.

He said, “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”

What a gift?!  Jonathan was not alone.  His armor bearer was right there with him- every step of the way- fighting right alongside him until the victory came. 

And this is what the Lord won’t let me go on… we each NEED armor bearers, BUT we are each called to BE armor bearers. 

Having friends- armor bearers- in my life that help hold me up, keep my eyes fixated on Jesus, remind me that I’m not alone and enter the hard with me are life giving.  Having my friend show up on my front porch this week with a warm meal for my family brought me to tears.  They didn’t wait until I asked- they just entered in. 

Being an armor bearer is about carrying the burdens alongside those we are doing life with- it’s about having courage to enter the hard and protecting those the Lord has placed in our lives.  The enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he will devour.  (1 Peter 5:8) It is easy to devour those that are on their own, those that our isolated. 

As armor bearers, we shoulder the load. We go with. We engage. We show up.  We don’t wait to be invited.

So, my encouragement to you is this- who in your life needs an armor bearer?  Who needs a listening ear?  Who needs a text message to say, “I’m thinking and praying for you.”?  Who needs an encouraging word from Scripture to point them back to the Gospel?  Who needs a phone call, a meal, a walk at the park to talk?  Identify those people that God has placed in your life and commit to walking alongside them- in the hard, messy, difficult parts of life.  Go with them until the victory comes.

You may BE one that needs an armor bearer.  And my encouragement to you is- don’t sit in the hard alone.  Be like Jonathan and invite others into your journey.  Invite others to go with you into the overwhelming, the unsettling, the uncertain of life with you.  Text that friend and ask for prayer- invite someone into your battle. 

There is no doubt that my heart is tender and fragile in light of all that my family is facing in the day in and day out of a broken and sinful world.  BUT. Jesus reminded me this week, through my Community Group, that my family is not alone.  He sees us and is with us through the practical expression of a Meal Train.  And knowing that we aren’t alone and others are willing to step into our hard journey with us- to be the hands and feet of Jesus- gives me courage and faith to keep going and trusting in my God just like Jonathan.