March 24, 2020
I wanted to take a few moments to share some devotional thoughts with you. I’ve been meditating on the Psalms over the last few days, and I have especially been thinking about the Psalms that speak of longing for God and delighting in worship. This includes verses like Psalm 63:1 – “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” It includes passages like Psalm 84 – “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God…For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”
If I had to guess, I’d bet that on Sunday you probably felt like I did – an odd mix of joy and sorrow. We had reason to rejoice, because God has blessed us to live in a time when we could stream a service, and all watch it together at the same time. The ability to stream this service was a wonderful blessing, but it is no substitute for the gathered worship of God’s people together on the Lord’s day where we can hear and see one another worship. God created us with bodies, and our great hope is for the day when we all gather together before God’s throne – in resurrection bodies – to worship and praise him forever. Because of this, virtual services will never be truly satisfying.
And so, in this odd and unique time in redemptive history, I’m grateful for technology, but I’m also grieving the loss of gathered worship – the very activity we were created and redeemed to participate in.
I miss you. I miss seeing your faces as I preach. I miss talking with you before and after the service. I miss hearing you sing and seeing you confess your faith. I miss having the Lord’s Supper with you.
Why am I sharing all this? It’s because healthy Christians are people who know how and when to grieve. A significant portion of the Psalms are focused on lament, because life in a fallen world means that there are many times when we will need to grieve. Certainly, we do not grieve without hope (1 Thess. 4:13), but we do grieve. And the temporary loss of corporate worship is definitely a time to grieve. (And let’s not forget the loss of other rhythms and routines, those who have lost jobs, and those who have lost loved ones due to the virus.)
We have great hope that the day will come when our Sovereign Lord will bring an end to this virus and allow us to gather again. But until then, I hope you will grieve with me. And I hope that your grief leads you to go to the Throne of Grace and to pour out your heart before the Lord, knowing that he loves you and he hears you. I hope it leads you into a closer fellowship with a Savior who suffered in your place and knows firsthand what it means to grieve. And I hope it makes you hunger and thirst for worship; that the temporary loss of worship, will make this great privilege more precious to you than ever and that when we can return, that you will do so eagerly.