Today, I’m worshiping with and preaching for the brethren in Cosby, Tennessee. We were here back in March when COVID-19 ramped up and they had to suspend their services, like so many other churches around the country.
So much has happened in the past 7 months that it seems almost surreal.
-Almost 8 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 and more than 39 million worldwide.
-Over 216,000 have died in the US, and more than 1.1 million people worldwide.
-Sadly some have died all alone in nursing homes.
-Businesses have been shut down and some will never reopen.
-Jobs have been lost.
-Family life has been turned upside down.
-The “experts” and our local, state, and national leaders have differed, offered conflicting views, and even changed their own advice on how to deal with COVID-19.
-And currently, according to the media, cases are surging in many states.
-Through it all, the mission and ministry of the church has been disrupted. Services scaled back. Classes canceled. And fellowship altered.
During this time we’ve worshiped with 13 different congregations in 8 different states, as well as “visiting” others through online cyber services. Every church has been handling this “current crisis” a little differently. But one thing is constant everywhere. Nothing is the same. The “new normal” is so abnormal.
Preaching for and attending with mask-wearing worshipers, when you can’t see their smiles, shake their hands, or hug their necks, feels so weird. So strange. So unnatural. It’s not hard to feel a sense of sadness for our situation that pervades the assembly.
Yet, we need to see God through our sad eyes.
Jeremiah, who prophesied the doom of Judah, experienced a much deeper sadness. The temple was destroyed. Jerusalem was laid waste. The land was plundered and pillaged. The people were devastated and in disarray.
His heartbreak, recorded in Lamentations, has earned him the moniker “the weeping prophet.” Repeated several times in the book is his hurting lament, “My eyes flow with tears” (Lam 1:16; 2:18; 3:48).
Yet, in the midst of his anguish and agony, he cries out, “Great is Your faithfulness” (Lam.3:23). Through his tears, Jeremiah sees God’s mercy. His goodness. His grace. His loving-kindness. And His providential care.
“The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore, I will hope in Him.”
Worship today will continue to be different. Social distancing. Face masks. Empty pews. Controlled contact. And curbed conversions.
Through it all, look up through your sad eyes and see God. He’s still ruling. He knows. He cares. He empathizes with your feelings. Your fears. Your genuine concerns.
Even though our current circumstances are vastly different than we’re used to, we can worship God. Trust in His promises. Rejoice in the Lord. Be patient in tribulation. And hold on tight to our hope.
Have a blessed Lord’s Day everyone!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman