I grew up with one brother and no sisters. I love my brother, and never longed for a sister (unlike my daughter, who loves her three brothers, but has always wanted a twin sister). But I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a sister.
I know now. You see, I have many sisters, and they are as dear to me as any sister of blood could be. God is good, and “sets the lonely in families” (Ps 68:6 NIV)—not just blood families, but church families. I look around my church, and I see sisters, brothers and mothers (Mark 3:35; Rom 12:10; 1 Tim 5:1-2; Heb 2:11). God gives fathers to the fatherless, mothers to the motherless, and brothers and sisters to those with no brothers or sisters.
As I get to know my sisters in Christ, I learn that loving begets love. Just like a blood family, you don’t choose your church family; you might choose your church, but you don’t choose the mix of personalities in it. A church is not a friendship group, built on mutual liking; a church is a family, and it’s only as you love and serve that you come to love the people in it.
Loving begets love. When I don’t invest much in others, I feel little for them; but when I care for others, I grow in love for them. When I teach Sunday School, I become fond of even the naughtiest kids. When I encourage the women in my small group—even on mornings when I’d rather stay home and rest—we grow closer together in God.
I have all kinds of sisters now. There’s my little sister, extrovert to my introvert, who excels in hospitability and who has the warmest welcome I’ve ever seen. There’s my big sister, who gives me wise advice when I’m confused about which path to take. There’s my strong-minded sister, who teaches me courage; my generous sister, who motivates me to serve; and my struggling sister, who inspires me to adopt faithful perseverance.
The other day, two of my sisters and I cried together about a mutual sorrow. As we sat side-by-side, disembowelling a box of tissues and comforting each other with a hand on the arm and a cup of tea, I realized how precious my sisters have become to me, and I thanked God. I pray for my daughter—that one day she will look around and rejoice that although she has three brothers and no sisters, she has many sisters in Christ.