I’ve got to admit, even after 45 years of preaching, I’ve never encountered anything like this. Due to the pandemic, we’ve been driven to worship online instead of meeting in our beautiful building. (Thank the Lord for technology and the internet.) Since we’re not broadcasting live, we record our worship service on Wednesday night for broadcast on Sundays. That means for the first time in all those years of preaching; I have Sundays off. It is all very confusing.
The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (See 2 Corinthians 4:7-12).
Merrill Tenney put it this way:
squeezed but not squashed;
bewildered but not befuddled;
pursued but not abandoned;
knocked down but not knocked out.
This pandemic has left us bewildered about a lot of things! “Are we ‘forsaking the assembly’ by only meeting online?” “How can we offer hospitality when we are forced to stay at home?” not to mention everyday matters like schooling our children and working from home, but I think I’ve learned what Paul was trying to teach us in this passage. We might be “perplexed, but we are not driven to despair.” We’re not giving up! We’re looking for creative solutions.
Visiting the shut-ins during these times is hard – but not impossible! Don is confined to a care facility, but someone placed a chair outside his window, and now I can sit on one side of the glass, and we can talk on the phone and laugh when it starts raining on me. A friend told me about a man whose wife is also in a nursing home, but she’s on the third floor! He didn’t despair but called a deacon who used a cherry-picker truck in his business. (That’s a truck with a long mechanical arm used in place of ladders.) The deacon loaded the man into the bucket and raised him up to her window!
Remember: challenges are just opportunities in disguise. The Lord is helping us consider what is truly important and delightfully overcome the obstacles.
Be a blessing (and be creative)!