Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts and our cares. — John Fawcett.
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. — Romans 12:15
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. — 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
THERE are suffering people everywhere. There are sorrowful people everywhere. There are burdened, breaking hearts everywhere. More than the fortunate and happy ever imagine they who walk life’s journey with sad and heavy hearts. Some sorrows come from poverty, and sadness comes from sin. Some griefs burden weary souls because of disease and weakness of the body, and other griefs as great or greater that result from the loss of loved ones. The good pastor is a son of consolation to all the smitten, suffering, and discouraged. Doubtless, there are numberless records of sin, sorrow, and suffering, but one is now lying before me, which has incredibly touched my heart.
The pastor who is reporting his work says: “The past month has been taken up as follows: I have made eighty regular pastoral calls; held eight preaching services; attended four sessions of the Sunday school, and led a Bible class; held after-services following the preaching on Sunday evenings; attended four weekly prayer meetings and two class meetings; officiated at several funerals, and been constant in labors among the sick and poor.” Here is a sample of one afternoon’s work: “Called where the wife and mother of two children is in trouble. The younger child is only four weeks old. The father got drunk a few nights since, fell in the street, cut his head very badly, was brought home at two o’clock in the morning, and routed the poor woman up. At the same time, three policemen dragged in the helpless sot. She has not slept for three nights, the husband in the meantime being only semiconscious. They are poor and have nothing with which to pay rent or purchase food.” Another family not far from the one just mentioned: “Wife and four children, the youngest only a few weeks old. The husband drinking up all he earns, the mother sick, and the family left without the necessities of life.” Another family still: “Wife and five children, and all the children sick, nothing in the house to eat, no means to buy anything; landlord threatening to turn the family outdoors; the husband full of licensed beer. . . . And so I might take you to a score of such families who attend our church if they attend anywhere.”
And all this in this so-called Christian land. It is enough to cause the hot blood of righteous wrath to stir every heart loyal to the Lord Jesus Christ. What an unspeakable shame and disgrace that the Christian people of this day and generation will tolerate the traffic that curses so many homes! If the drinking habit is a sin, then all reasonable people must remove the temptation to sin. If the drinking habit is a disease, then the deadly poison that induces the disease ought to be put entirely out of the reach of the sick.
These facts in a pastor’s experience show us that vast, difficult, and most discouraging obstructions lie in the pathway of the faithful pastor. If we wait for outside organizations to remove them, we shall wait in vain. If we wait for organizations within the church, our waiting will not avail. There is only one sure way to do the work of God committed to the hands of God’s ambassadors—they must do it themselves. According to the strength and wisdom given to them, they must consecrate themselves to seeking out the wretched, the outcasts, and the slaves of sin, and with tender sympathy, strong faith, and unwavering love, lift up and lead to Christ even the most hopeless. Such service calls for uttermost devotion, self-denial, and self-sacrifice. Still, the soul will find the sweetest fellowship with the blessed Christ in such service. The more wretched and hopeless the people, the more need of the pastor’s presence, sympathy, and love. The Master alone knows how many and peculiar the pastor’s duties are. There must be a constant and vivid sense of the presence of Jesus in their performance.
By Bishop W. F. Mallalieu
Updated 2023 Nathan Zipfel