As I write, we are in the midst of the raging, worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, which has set our lifestyle patterns on their heads and forced us to adapt in a variety of ways. At 77 years of age, I'm in the vulnerable population for getting this nasty virus, so I must take great care when venturing forth. Instead of going to the grocery store, I have door-to-door delivery for shelf-stable items, but to acquire fresh fruits and vegetables, I must go out to a store wearing a multi-layered mask. The church that I usually attended has padlocked its doors and urges us to join its live-streamed broadcast over YouTube.
Amos 8:11-12 – The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it. (NRSV)
Today, I feel as if our country is where Israel was back in Amos's day. Because God's people had forgotten their God and had gone searching for titillating god and goddess worship, the one true God was about to withdraw from them, and they would suffer the consequences of their choices. By the time they realized their mistake and went searching for worship of the One True God, it would be too late to find what they were looking for.
Likewise, I'd do nearly anything legal and moral to be able to attend corporate worship again, but attend I shan't be able to do. Even when services resume in the sanctuary, we vulnerables must stay home!
In the past, the sick, the halt, maimed, and lame have always been welcomed into the sanctuary where inner healing, if not physical healing, might be found. I'm finding this really hard to bear. God has always been my strength and shield, my very present help in times of trouble. Therefore, not to be able to seek Him in person in the church sanctuary became the most troubling part of the recent pandemic.
How I've missed corporate worship — the singing, the prayers, the praising, all accompanied by the bonus of a really good sermon! For many, the sermon is the highlight, but for me, it's the prayers and praise that lift my soul into the heavenlies. How my soul longs and thirsts for the Lord's presence within the context of corporate worship!
So, what can we do about it? It is important to deliberately choose to give thanks for what we do have, rather than to complain about what we don't have. Paul urges us to give thanks in every circumstance. Let's ask ourselves, what new thing is the Lord doing and going to do in our lives as a result of this deprivation of in-person worship? Suffering produces character, so what character is God developing in us?
Prayer: Lord God, we long and thirst for Your presence as for water in a dry land. Be with us and fill us again with Your loving presence. Hasten the day when we will be able once again to worship You in the sanctuary. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "We're Marching To Zion" (Lyrics)