This isn't just any toilet paper. There's a story that goes along with this one.
When Bryan went into the hospital, our family was thrown into crisis mode overnight. It was a situation that was literally impossible for us to handle alone. We needed doctors, nurses, prayer warriors, childcare providers, encouragers, and chefs. This was not a one-man (or one-family) show.
And our wonderful church family descended upon us en masse. They took care of the kids, went shopping, prayed, visited, cooked meals, and brought toilet paper. Lots of toilet paper. I joked at the time that our church's love language was paper goods. We were so well-cared for that I haven't had to buy toilet paper in six months. (I still haven't used up all of the paper towels.)
So as I looked at that last roll, I got to thinking: How many people have a support system like ours? Tragedy can visit any of us. How many would find themselves facing it alone?
Our society is fragmented. Families are scattered across the nation, and even the families that live close are much smaller than in years past. Many churches are so huge that people go every week without actually getting to know the people sitting around them. Technology often gives us the illusion of close relationships, when we're really quite isolated. I'm not entirely sure how much toilet paper Facebook friends would deliver.
When things are going well, we can go through life fairly independently. Friendship is a luxury, something that improves our lives but isn't really essential to our day to day existence. It's when the days get dark that we need someone to reach out to, someone who can come alongside and do what is beyond our power to accomplish. And we don't just need one "someone," we need a network of people who care.
The writer of Hebrews warns us against failing to meet together (Heb. 10:25), and Solomon tells us that we should pity the man who falls without another to pick him up (Ecc. 4:10). In spite of this, many of us today, even Christians who go to church every Sunday, are living alone. Stop and think about your life. If a crisis befell you tomorrow, would you be instantly surrounded? Or would you find yourself scrambling, looking for someone to help you up?
If you're not quite sure, it might be time to strengthen your network. And you get caring friends by being someone who cares. Going to church isn't enough. You have to serve. You have to truly get involved. If someone's hurting, join with others to help. Reach out.
But what if you're the invincible type? What if you are NEVER going to have a situation where you need other people's love and support? There are, in fact, individuals who do make it through life without facing extreme hardship or heartbreak. What about them? Can't they dispense with the network?
Perhaps they can, but they will be missing an opportunity to serve. If your life is truly blessed to the point where you don't at this moment need the aid of others, there are people who need you. God's gifts are meant to be shared, not hoarded. If the Lord has given you a peaceful and tranquil existence, He desires not complacency but active service. And as you serve others, you will experience the richness that only relationships with other servants can bring.
"And this I pray,
that your love may abound still more and more
in knowledge and discernment,
that you may approve the things that are excellent,
that you may be sincere and without offense
till the day of Christ,
being filled with the fruits of righteousness
which are by Jesus Christ,
to the glory and praise of God."