Despite the tragedy and suffering the COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted, we must believe God has many wise and holy purposes for permitting the onset of this modern-day plague. Only eternity will reveal them all, but for now we trust that the sovereign Lord is at work bringing good out of that which is in itself evil.
Perhaps one of God’s purposes for the Church is to teach us to be grateful for, and to value more highly, fellowship in the Body of Christ. Sometimes we only appreciate a blessing when it’s suddenly withdrawn from us. For as long as any of us can remember, meeting for worship with brothers and sisters in Christ on Sunday was a matter of course. Now that we’re prevented from engaging in the fellowship we once took for granted, we sorely miss it. “Meeting” on Zoom is better than nothing, but we simply weren’t designed to find deep satisfaction in interacting with other human beings through a grainy screen and tinny speakers. We need is to be in the physical presence of one another.
So maybe one blessing we’ll gain from this pandemic is a renewed love for Christian communion. We should all say with the psalmist, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD'” (Psalm 122:1).
For myself, I have so little cause for complaint. Though I long to gather together again with the congregation of God’s people, since we are a family of seven, I don’t suffer from loneliness. But there are some in the church who live alone and for them, the isolation is oppressive. There’s a reason why, in prisons, solitary confinement is a punishment. And while we’re updated daily with the grim new body count of COVID-19’s victims, no number can convey the untold misery of people consigned to suffer and die alone.
This week as I was reading theologian Herman Bavinck’s words on the creation of Adam and his need for a companion, I couldn’t help but think of how this pandemic has given us abundant proof of the words God spoke about solitary Adam: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Here’s Bavinck’s reflection on that:
It is not good for the man that he should be alone. He is not so constituted, he was not created that way. His nature inclines to the social – he wants company. He must be able to express himself, reveal himself, and give himself. He must be able to pour out his heart, to give form to his feelings. He must share his awarenesses with a being who can understand him and can feel and live along with him. Solitude is poverty, forsakenness, gradual pining and wasting away. How lonesome it is to be alone!Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, pg. 188
I understand the reasons why our authorities have ordered social isolation and banned gatherings of people. We need to preserve human life. But life lived alone is “not good.” We need to be with one another, and as believers we need real flesh-and-blood Christian fellowship with each other. May the Lord open the door soon, that we can again meet for mutual encouragement (Romans 1:12) and for worshiping “together” and “with one voice” singing the praises of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:12; 15:6). Only in fellowship with him, and with one another, “face to face,” can our joy be complete (1 John 1:3, 4; 2 John 12).
Soli Deo Gloria!