21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (1 Cor. 12:21-22)
I’m glad Paul took the trouble to explain this about the body of the church because it helps me consider my own ignorance about my fellow Saints.
I recall in my previous ward there was an aged sister and her husband who, when they were called on in church classes, tended to make comments unrelated or only tangentially associated to the topic of discussion. The husband in particular seemed to like bringing up screwy quotations by Brigham Young in a way that often subverted rather than supported the points the teacher was trying to make. I remember this brother bearing testimony on three separate fast Sundays that the Savior fell down three times in the garden of Gethsemane. He placed a special emphasis on the falls and the number of falls that I couldn’t understand. (Even more puzzling was that it never says in scripture that Christ fell three times..) His wife would bear emotional testimony in a wandering sort of way, working in her profound grief over her grandchildren living half the world away from her. As a writer interested in skillful crafting of prose, I was often embarrassed for them. Sometimes I had to stop listening, but other times I just tried to understand the feeling they were trying to express. Later, much became clear to me when this sister was put in a nursing home with dementia because her husband was too feeble and fall-prone to take care of her himself.
I think of this couple when I read the above verses, and I’ve often pondered in what way they were necessary to our ward if their discourse wasn’t linear or profound.
Eventually I realized that they set a great example of love of family and love of the gospel, especially in old age. They presented a stalwart picture of what it means to endure to the end. Even as her mental faculties degenerated, her commitment shone through. Even as his legs weakened and his balance wavered, his dedication was rock solid. Their testimonies might wander or seem impenetrable, but they still felt and recognized the Spirit, then stood to bear witness in the best way they could. Not only that, their weaknesses became an opportunity for our ward to be charitable, to be saintly, to bear with them. I didn’t hear anyone express scorn, unkindness, or impatience toward them, not even raillery, whether public or private. This couple was treated with respect and love just like everybody else. We were all made better people because they were with us.
If, say, the hand ever says to the foot, “I have no need of thee,” I conclude that the hand doesn’t know what pressure and difficulty the foot labors under. Neither does the hand recognize what the foot can do and does do for the hand.
How about you? When have you as a “head” or “eye” learned you needed the “hand” or “foot”?