Photo by João Ferrão on Unsplash
We are in crazy times right now where a lot of things don’t make sense. The onset and aftermath of the coronavirus has put the whole world off-kilter. We are all trying to make sense of what it means to quarantine, stay at home, what businesses are essential and what aren’t. I wish that hair salons and nail salons were considered essential! Lord have mercy on my roots!
One of the things I’ve been thinking about during this time is the usage of various words. Words that will most definitely be added to new versions of the dictionary. And some words that now clearly go together but are oxymorons.
Oxymorons are all around us:
- Jumbo shrimp
- Deafening silence
- Invisible ink
- Electric candles
- Sweet sorrow
- Accurate rumors
- Alone together
But what about this new one that has descended upon our world ~ Scattered together.
How can people be scattered but be together at the same time? Let’s take a quick look at the definitions of these two words:
Scattered: distributed or occurring at widely spaced and usually irregular intervals
Together: into or in one gathering, company, mass, place, or body
I mean, “distributed widely” and “in one gathering” simply do not make sense when put together. They are complete opposites.
How can we be so widely spaced from one another but still experience the joy of gathering? One of those ways is to remember that we are ALL going through basically the same thing. We are all being told to shelter at home, stay safe at home, wear face masks, be as isolated as possible only going out for absolute necessities.
My heart goes out to the mom’s with little ones at home, they have little to zero time to themselves. The widow/widower who is riding this out alone in their homes. To the grandparents who live in assisted living and cannot leave their rooms or see their families. Weddings that are live-streamed and new babies being born without waiting rooms filled with well-wishers. Graduations are being postponed to unknown dates.
It’s. Just. All. So. Much!
There. Is. Hope!
The Lord is with us and He is not surprised by any of this worldly chaos. He did not create this disease but no matter how hard it is to wrap our brains around, He is allowing it.
There are so many examples of the Lord scattering His people in the Bible, and it is ALWAYS for a purpose.
In Genesis 9:18-20 (AMP) we read about what happened after the Lord flooded the earth and what needed to happen to fill the earth once again,
“The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth. Ham would become the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah, and from these [men] the whole earth was populated and scattered with inhabitants. And Noah began to farm and cultivate the ground and he planted a vineyard.”
Sometime later, the people of the land got together and thought they could create a tower that would enable them to reach God. Because the Lord knew this would eventually cause more problems than good, we see in Genesis 11:8-10 (AMP),
“So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the surface of the entire earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore the name of the city was Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the entire earth; and from that place the Lord scattered and dispersed them over the surface of all the earth.”
In the New Testament, we see how God worked through two guys arguing about what was best for the ministry of the Gospel. These were two apostles of Jesus named Paul and Barnabas were great friends and passionate missionaries for the Gospel. At one point, they argued about where to go next and who to bring with them. They both felt very strongly in their opinions.
Towards the end of the 15th chapter of Acts, we see that they did indeed end up going to minister in different areas. Paul and Silas went on a second journey to Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia; while Barnabas and John Mark sailed to Cyprus.
This disagreement was between two human beings who made choices. Satan thought he had won a small battle when they stopped ministering together. But we know that he absolutely did not! In the case of Paul and Barnabas, they and their new companions ended up reaching even MORE people with the saving grace of salvation. One strand of that ministry reached into Europe and eventually America.
God, in His wisdom, will always use what the enemy plans for our destruction, to ultimately be for our good and God’s glory.
In this time of being scattered together, the church buildings are empty and gatherings are indefinitely postponed. Yet, we are together through the genius of technology. Sunday morning services are being broadcast all over the world. People who’ve never stepped foot into a traditional church building, are hearing the Good News of the gospel in their homes. Students who had been enjoying weekly gatherings are still able to fellowship with their friends and leaders on their phones. Social media has ramped up encouraging messages of hope and grace.
The Lord is still in this. He is completely aware of our fears, worries, and anxieties. And He is here with us to weather the storm.
Psalm 91(AMP) is a beautiful chapter of biblical poetry that sings of the joy we can have in knowing our security lies in Jesus. The entire chapter is worth the read, but I’ll share this first verse:
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].”
There are several more verses in Psalms that are full of encouragement and this truth ~ Jesus is our stronghold and our true shelter. In all the places you feel scattered today, give all the pieces to the Lord and let Him hold them for you. Trust that He will put them back together. The pieces may look different when they are replaced, but they will be stronger and more secure in the hands of a gracious God.
Stay safe at home during this Covid-19 pandemic, shelter your heart in the shadow of the Lord, and look forward to the day when we can gather together in person and share community face to face!