The quieter schedule encourages longer periods of solitude and hence deeper reflection. Each time I interact with someone, I am more appreciative for him or her, more thankful for their love and friendship. I long to return to the sanctuary in ways I did not, and could not, before.
This past week brought the effects of COVID-19 closer to our home. I am sure it came nearer to yours as well. Good friends saw a family member succumb to it. Our seminary lost to the virus a graduate who was a beloved pastor. Others are struggling with loneliness, loss of work, and concerns for the future.
Yet in the midst of this plague, the Lord still protects and provides. After declaring the Lord to be a refuge and a fortress, the psalmist says in Psalm 91:3-4,
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
As Jared reminded us, there are reasons for thanksgiving even in the midst of this epidemic. Hidden blessings are found under the Lord’s outstretched wings. In sharing a few I have experienced, I hope they might encourage you in these dark days.
I have discovered fresher spiritual and heavenly longings in my heart. When my pastors pray in the online service, I find a new eagerness in my heart to listen, pray along, and see the Lord work. The quieter schedule encourages longer periods of solitude and hence deeper reflection. Each time I interact with someone, I am more appreciative for him or her, more thankful for their love and friendship. I long to return to the sanctuary in ways I did not, and could not, before.
Many have asked whether online worship is truly worship or not. I believe David’s experiences of separation and Israel’s experience of exile have much to teach us here. We can worship “in exile” or away from God’s people (Ps. 42:(1-5), but there is longing for the fullness of restoration. It’s worship that longs for completeness. This period should also stir the longings in our heart for heaven and the consummation.
One of my friends stopped by and, even as we kept our social distance, gave me the book The Traveller, or Meditations on Various Subjects by James Meikle. The author was a surgeon of the British fleet during the eighteenth century, and he uses the analogy of sailing throughout the book to speak of spiritual life.