We're All In This Together

In my closing comments of the live-stream sermon Sunday, I suggested that we be spiritually and emotionally prepared if things got worse. They got worse.

Most know by now that our governor issued new, stricter guidelines that extend to June 10. Unless we have a dramatic turnaround, we will not be assembling together until Sunday, June 14. That is a long time away. So, yes, we need endurance. But we need the proper frame of mind that results in endurance. One of the contributing factors to that is the knowledge that we are not alone; we’re all in this together.

The solitary nature of suffering compounds it. Elijah was overwhelmed by this when he bitterly complained to God, “I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (I Kings 19:10). We may excuse Elijah for feeling alone when nearly all the prophets of Jehovah had been killed and the prophets of Baal held sway over Israel. But he was exaggerating, for God responds, “Yet I have reserved 7,000 in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (19:18). Isolation magnifies; connection brings perspective.

There is both a mental and practical side to this. The mental side is simply the knowledge that others are suffering like we are, sometimes worse, and yet they cope and thrive. Peter exhorted his readers, “Resist him [the devil], steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (I Pet. 5:9).

In regard to the coronavirus, how true it is that our brethren throughout the world are suffering the same threats, anxieties, interruption of worship, etc. But closer to home, our own brethren are and will be going through serious trials stemming from the pandemic.

The practical side is real help and support from each other. As noted in a previous “Thought” article, we usually have approached the New Testament passages on benevolence theoretically, as in “this could happen to us one day.” Well, “one day” is on our doorstep. We have some challenges ahead. Even though we are separated by distance and the inability to assemble, we do not have to be isolated in spirit or the feeling that we have no one to help us.

The Centreville family is comprised of several single folks; some who are high risk due to factors of age or health; others who are on the front lines in battling the virus or exposed to the public; some who have lost jobs and others who will. This is not a time for platitudes; it is a time to step up and support each other, sacrificially if necessary. But it is imperative that we eradicate the insidious notion that any one of our number has to face this alone.

“In a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality,” Paul wrote. “For I bear them witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship for the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we had hoped, but first gave themselves to the Lord and then to us by the will of God” (II Cor. 8:2-5).

Thank God for the Macedonians, and let us emulate their spirit of generosity and service.