After not having been able to gather together for worship due to the coronavirus global pandemic and the stay at home orders that were enacted a few weeks ago, during a video feed with my prayer team a few days ago, I had my first cry. My eyes welled up with tears because I miss gathering with my people and friends. I imagined where everyone sat (yes, we are creatures of habit and people tend to sit in their same spots). In my mind, I could hear their voices as they prayed. I missed hearing their laughter, their stories, their praises to God and their prayer requests. And I wept because I miss my wonderful faith family.
I understand more fully now the apostle Paul’s repeated desire to be with fellow believers even though he was constrained by distance, imprisonment, or some other obstacle. Let me share some of the times Paul writes of how he missed his extended faith family –
Romans 1:11-12, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
II Timothy 1:4, “I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.”
Philippians 1:8, “God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 4:20, “… how I wish I could be with you now …”
During this pandemic, social distancing is a necessity to help eliminate the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus. And yet social distancing also gives true believers in the Christian faith a greater appreciation for times we gather together for worship, prayer, teaching, discipleship, fellowship, service, etc. There simply is no substitute for God’s people gathering together, because as Paul says in Romans, that’s how we are mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. I miss you!