“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” is a series of church worker wellness devotions. Visit lcms.org/wellness for more resources.

Ed Arle, D. Min., retired pastor and pastoral counselor

You raise me up

In the Nazi prison camps during the Holocaust of World War II, Jews were often called out of the barracks many hours before the sun came up to stand in formation while prison officials conducted the daily roll-call.

Even in the dead of winter with little or nothing to shelter them from the cold, prisoners were forced to stand, often for hours, waiting to hear their name called.

In the cold, the fatigue of standing for long periods of time caused many to fall, exhausted, to the ground, at which point the fallen prisoner would be killed and carried off to the burial pits.

One man, however, told of what happened to him one cold, dark morning when he, too, began to weaken and fall. He said he could feel his knees start to buckle and his body begin to sag and tip toward the ground.

However, in that instant, he felt hands grab hold on either side of him to prop him up.

Then for the next several hours, two strangers wedged his body between their own, holding him up until he had the strength to stand again. They also called out when the guards called his name so he wouldn’t be missed.

The man never did learn who these rescuers were or whether or not they survived, but he does believe that, had it not been for those two strangers, he never would have lasted the night or survived the war.

In so many ways, this man’s story is your story and mine.

A life of service in the name and for the sake of Jesus is a blessing, but caring for others calls for us to recognize our own need for the care that comes from others.

In those times when the Lord sends someone to lift, strengthen and support us, the love and compassion of Christ becomes very personal.

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.” (Ps. 68:19)

Lord God Heavenly Father, when I am weak in spirit, lift me up in faith to see Your will at work in the good times and bad. Lord, help me to believe that all things truly do work together for the good of those who cling to You in faith. Amen.

Irvin Yalom is professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine. In his book, Lover’s Executioner, Yalom speaks of teaming with a patient and their problems, rather than keeping an individual’s struggle at a professional arm’s-length.

How much more is this true in the life of the church?

As the gentlemen held up the weary compatriot in the concentration camp, so we do for one another within the church.

As ministry professionals, we need and are gifted moments with others, carrying and caring for our burdens, just as we carry theirs.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2)

We are not always the strong one, sometimes we will be the weak. Sometimes it is hardest to let our struggle be shared, to be cared for when the burden is heavy.

In letting others care for us, we let Christ sit in the silence and the comfort; in our weakness He is strong.

“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” devotions and prayers will be released Monday mornings on the LCMS Facebook and Twitter pages. Church Worker Wellness devotions will also be archived online.

LCMS church workers and their families are invited to offer encouragement to other workers and families by submitting a 500-word devotion for the Synod’s worker-to-worker wellness devotion series. Email questions and submissions to workerwellness@lcms.org.