There is something so powerful about community. You’ve seen it all over the internet this past week with #metoo and sharing about infant loss and miscarriage. The pain, stigma, and loneliness that accompanies a lot of the human existence is mitigated by the reality that these are shared experiences. Not only do we feel less alone when we share with others, the power of the hard thing is diminished too. I think Satan loves when we keep silent. When we stay isolated and lost in our own shame, believing that we’re the only one who has it this hard, has experienced this much pain, or that we really aren’t worth anyone’s time.

This isn’t the first time I’ve used a Harry Potter analogy (and I’m sure it isn’t the last!), but this whole theme of sharing our heavy burdens with others makes me think of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Harry is struggling a lot in this book with feelings of isolation. He begins to feel like his burden is just a liability to his friends and maybe he’s better off tackling them on his own. He fears the darkness inside him might taint his friends and decides it’s better to keep it to himself. He thinks no one else believes in him and that he’s better off alone. But then lovely (quirky) Luna comes to him. And she says, “I don’t think that’s true. But I suppose that’s how he wants you to feel . . . if I were You-Know-Who, I’d want you to feel cut off from everyone else. Because if it’s just you alone you’re not as much of a threat.”

The power in loneliness is palpable. And the relief, freedom, and warmth found in community is even more so. I had a rough week recently. I was feeling overwhelmed by a lot of life’s circumstances and began to doubt God’s care for me. I finally decided to text a few friends and be honest about some of the pain I was experiencing. And you know what? Literally every single one of them was having a hard week too. They all felt lonely and isolated. Many of them were discouraged. I went to community group and opened up my heart again. I was all apologetic about crying, but quickly found that at least half the ladies had their own tears about the pain in their lives. Not a single one of us is immune to the pain of this world. And every single one of us can benefit from that load being shared.

Of course, Harry Potter didn’t have the benefit of having Jesus’ help. Not only do we benefit from the body of Christ, we have communion with the great high priest himself. And not some far off, holier-than-thou priest, no! We have Jesus, who humbled himself by coming in human form, living on this earth, and being tempted and suffering in every single way we are. Our darkness, our temptations, our weaknesses — they are no surprise to him. He knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust. He has compassion on our pain and will right all wrongs. As we draw near to him, he draws near to us — what an amazingly, glorious promise.

We have the Holy Spirit ready and waiting to intercede for us every minute of the day. We are never truly alone because we are united with him. Jesus is always with us, but we also can’t do this whole Christian walk thing alone. God has also provided the church to help bear our burdens in tangible ways. We were created as social beings and the need for the Body of Christ cannot be minimized. We are so forgetful and our hearts are deceitful– oh how we need each other! We need each other to speak the truth to us in love: to warn us when are lazy, to encourage us when we are disheartened, help us when we are weak, and be patient with us at all times (1 Thess. 5:14).