Dear HBC family,
For those of us watching the COVID-19 pandemic in our city, state, and nation, this week is a critical one. We pray that this week will show that we have passed the peak of the outbreak. We hope that this week will show a decrease in the number of daily cases and deaths related to COVID-19.
But even if we have truly reached the peak, we still have a long road ahead. Perhaps it’s better not to think of this week as the “peak,” as if it were all downhill from here. Perhaps it’s better to think of this week as the “bottom,” with a long incline before we get to where we were before. It was five weeks ago that the COVID-19 crisis hit us, and if we are now experiencing the worst point, then it will take at least that long — and probably much longer — before we are able to experience church together in the same way as we did before the outbreak.
But that does not mean we have to give in to despair. Nor should we get hasty or impatient for things to move faster. We must keep praying for each other, keep praying for our leaders, and keep trusting the Lord.
A great example of this kind of perseverance can be found in 1st Thessalonians. When the apostle Paul first arrived in Thessalonica and shared the good news of Jesus with the people, many of them joyfully received the gospel. But the young Thessalonian church was also frequently afflicted by hardship and persecution. When Paul was forced to leave them for a while, he was concerned that their faith would be shaken by their afflictions. So he tried to come back and visit the church, but he was prevented time and again from seeing them. Finally, he sent Timothy to check on them, and he was thrilled when Timothy returned to him and told him the church was standing strong. So Paul sent a letter to the church, and in that letter he wrote:
But now Timothy has come to us from you and brought us good news about your faith and love. He reported that you always have good memories of us and that you long to see us, as we also long to see you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and affliction, we were encouraged about you through your faith. For now we live, if you stand firm in the Lord. How can we thank God for you in return for all the joy we experience before our God because of you, as we pray very earnestly night and day to see you face to face and to complete what is lacking in your faith?
1 Thessalonians 3:6-10 CSB
In the same way, church family, during this time we are separated from each other, I encourage you to stand firm in the Lord. Pray for each other’s faith in the Lord, that we would not grow weary and lose heart during the long days of COVID-19. And encourage each other by whatever means you can — whether that’s a letter, a phone call, an email, a text, or a video meeting!
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 CSB