I hesitated before entering the church lobby. After months of watching our church service online, I wasn’t sure about the new church service protocol.
The lobby seemed hushed. Where were my chattering groups of church-going friends who used to meet here, laughing, embracing, sipping coffee from paper cups and sampling baked goods? I longed for conversation, but the atmosphere seemed too solemn for small talk, so I drifted into the sanctuary to find a seat.
Dozens of questions buzzed in my head.
Should I wear a mask? Am I keeping my six-foot distance?
Where can I sit? So many rows are blocked off.
Is it okay to sing? I’m pretty sure I’m not sick, but if I sing, will people think I’m spewing dangerous particles into the air? Will I be inhaling deadly germs if I take low, deep breaths?
Will I ever again have the joy of singing in the choir, or will choral music, along with handshakes and hugs, become a thing of the past?
I like change. Sometimes. I’m all for a change of scenery or a change of clothes. I’m in favor of changes that make the world a better, safer, happier place.
But change that comes barreling in without warning…no, I don’t like that so much.
Change that brings personal loss…I definitely don’t care for that.
Since this pandemic swept in, we’ve been bulldozed by changes and leveled by losses. I’ve grieved for friends who’ve buried parents and spouses. I’ve fretted and prayed for people who’ve suffered financial loss.
Lately I’ve been overcome by a feeling of emptiness. I miss the human connections I used to have. People are keeping their distance. Friends are planning to move out of town. More change is coming, so I have little motivation to make plans for the future.
I wonder if I’ll be able to honestly look at my losses and “count them as rubbish,” as the Apostle Paul did when he wrote:
“For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and
count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Phil. 3:8b ESV)
As I wonder what the future holds and try not to fear, I’m drawn to the Psalms. It seems David asked the same question we’re asking. “How long is this suffering going to last?”
13 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
(Ps. 13 ESV)
It’s Okay to Be Unhappy—For a Little While
It’s okay to tell God you’re unhappy with your circumstances. David did. But then David moved on from heartbreak to hope. He wrote, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.”
God’s Love Doesn’t Change
God’s love is steadfast. It’s everlasting. ( Jeremiah 31:3) He’s not going to leave us. (Heb. 13:5) Nothing can separate us from his love. Romans 8:31-39 And when God allows us to experience loss, it doesn’t mean he loves us less.
God doesn’t change. Society’s values may change, but God’s precepts are always the same. (Psalm 119:160) Despite the fluctuations in cultural norms, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Heb. 13:8 ESV )
God Is Building Something Better
When my future is uncertain, it helps me to recall God’s faithfulness in the past. In Psalm 13, David wondered how long his suffering would last. But he made up his mind to rejoice and sing to the Lord because he remembered God had “dealt bountifully” to him.
Every time God has taken something away from me, he’s replaced it with something better. After the wreckage comes restoration. New growth. New purpose. New joys. A deeper, richer relationship with my Savior.
Think about Job. Almost everything Job owned was snatched from him. In a single day he lost 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. His seven sons and three daughters all died. (Job 1). When we flip to the end of the book of Job, we see that after Job’s ordeal, God gave him twice as much as he had before: 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, 1,000 female donkeys, seven more sons and three more daughters. Wait, only ten more children? Why not twenty to replace the ten who died? Because Job hadn’t permanently lost his first ten children; they were still his, and he would be reunited with them in heaven. (Job 42:10-13 ESV)
You may be suffering great loss in these changing times. Or, like me, you may be experiencing a sense of sadness and a longing to have things the way they used to be. We can go ahead and mourn our losses. But let’s not get stuck in our sorrow. Let’s trust in his steadfast love, and watch to see how he’ll deal bountifully with us once again.
Margaret has contributed to Restore's Monday Musings for several years. We thank her immensely for her devotion toward us, her dedication to write and encourage our readers, and for her desire to follow Christ more fully with her gifts and talents. Her blogs for Monday Musings is always a blessing to us and God has used it as a training ground to help grow her confidence and skill. Now, Margaret's writings can be found on other platforms including, The Glorious Table, Proverbs 31 Ministries, and her personal blogspot: The Delighted Heart.
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