What You’ve Learned from a Teeny, Tiny Bug
You are seeing God’s wisdom during this pandemic. Like Elijah, we look for God in the great and bombastic moments of life but find him in the lesser things, the small, the tiny, the microscopic. Elijah heard the wisdom of God in the sound of a low whisper (1 Kings 19:9-18). Sometimes the biggest lessons come from the smallest things.
COVID-19, something so small that it is only seen with specialized equipment, has turned your life upside down. Great American industries are struggling, businesses have closed their doors, and hard-working people are suddenly without jobs. Fear reigns supreme as our leaders cast about for some cure. Most horribly, churches no longer assemble as a group and thus deprive their people of needed fellowship.
Here’s what I miss the most.
God’s people need fellowship. God commanded the Israelites to gather three times a year in Jerusalem for celebrations (Exodus 34:23). As they appeared together before the Lord, they were reminded of their common heritage and their common salvation given by the Lord. The Christians came from the background of these common feasts. The childhood story of Jesus remaining behind in Jerusalem after the Feast of the Passover (Luke 2:41-52) is one example. It was on Passover that Jesus was crucified and on Pentecost (another feast) when the church began (John 19:31; Acts 2:1). Afterward, the church would assemble together on the first day of the week. Although they enjoyed the company of one another “day by day” (Acts 2:46), the grouping on the Lord’s Day was special, for it brought everyone together at once for a common purpose.
Like you, I miss our time together. We talk on the phone, we teach Bible class via web conferencing, and we stream our services, but it is not the same. Let no one suggest that disassembled assemblies hold a torch to the real thing. They just don’t. They are an exceptional situation forced upon us by troubled times. But as for me, I miss the handshakes, hugs, pats on the back, and even the sweet kisses from some octogenarian ladies. I suspect you miss it all too. The Lord knew what he was doing when he gave us the assembly. I’ll be glad when we get it back.
Long-distance encouragement is hard. When I traveled to Russia many years ago, I was given a packet of cards. I was to open one card every day. It became the pinnacle of my day! Each card was from a different family. What a joy! But the greatest moment came when I returned home. Sometimes there would be a small crowd of people from the congregation who met me at the airport. I’ll never forget seeing them all as I passed through security. What encouragement!
I miss that today, and I really need it. People call, and that’s wonderful, but it is not the same as a face-to-face meeting. Paul enjoyed the encouragement he gained from his church family. Read Philippians 4:2, 3, and note those “…who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life” (emphasis mine – jbe). We desperately need side by side encouragement.
Churches of Christ sing with only the human voice. I’m not making a doctrinal point here, although you might see our article on instrumental music for those details. I am observing that I miss the beautiful voices blending together in praise to the Almighty. God’s people sing. The purpose is not to be entertained but to praise the Lord. At the same time, we are speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, teaching and admonishing one another (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).
I can listen to recorded music, and I can sing along with it. But it is not the same. I miss my brothers and sisters singing with me and to me.
This isolation will pass. When it does, we will again enjoy the fellowship, the encouragement, and the singing that means so much. What do you miss because of the pandemic? I suspect we can get along just fine without many things but not without the strength of one another. Pray for relief, serve others, and dream of our restoration.