It’s not likely many of us can remember exactly what we were doing a year ago today, but no doubt we were all adjusting to what would become a new normal: life during a global pandemic. If you were anything like me, you scoured the internet looking for updates from the CDC and your own local and national leaders, trying to figure out what to do next. Those early days were bewildering, weren’t they?
Handwashing, mask wearing, and social distancing became routine. Birthday parties, proms, graduations, and weddings were canceled. Zoom provided an alternative for business meetings and meet-ups, and thanks to livestreaming, most churches adapted to virtual worship.
Still, with all the benefit of digital advancements, social distancing gave way to social isolation. Personal engagement suffered. I’ve had some of the loneliest, darkest, and even most paralyzing moments of my adulthood over the past year.
This is what I’ve hated about COVID-19: it has divided people when we needed each other most. It has divided us physically, keeping loved ones from caring for their family during hospitalization and sometimes even end of life, but it has also divided us socially, emotionally, even spiritually as a deadly disease somehow turned into a political agenda.
After a raucous political season, ongoing racial tensions, and lingering questions surrounding COVID, we’re tired. But even if we’ve grown weary, as people of faith, we’re a people with hope! The good news of the gospel found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus still has the power to save us from our frail, human condition.
Regardless of what we’ve seen the past year related to pandemic, politics, and protest, God still sits on His throne. He is still for us. He is mighty to save. It’s important for us to remind each other about this because fear can creep in when we’re focused on ourselves or our circumstances.
It is against this backdrop of hope that I began reading Romans the other day. Though I’ve read through this incredible book a dozen times or more, its instruction on friendship took me by surprise. Rather than flying through those first few verses in chapter one to get to the “good stuff,” I lingered —
For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you — that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
Romans 1:9-12 (ESV)
The Holy Spirit began imparting beautiful instruction about friendship. Paul begins by pointing his friends to the gospel, and he lets them know he is continually praying for them. What if we did this for our friends? What if our everyday, ordinary conversations were seasoned with salt and life and had the substance of eternal value?
In the second half of verse 10 and the first part of verse 11, can’t you sense Paul’s deep longing to see his friends in Rome? After the year we’ve had where we haven’t been able to see those we love and care about without restriction, I can identify with Paul in a way I hadn’t been able to before. There’s a desperation to his desire to be with them, and as we continue reading, we see that this isn’t self-serving; he wants to strengthen them spiritually.
In this friendship Paul shares with the Roman church, there’s mutual benefit to the relationship. They’re encouraged by one another’s faith. There’s a humility and earnestness in Paul’s words that indicate his heart is truly other minded.
Can you imagine how your friendships might be revolutionized by putting these principles into practice? There’s no better friend to have and be than the kind who points others to Christ, prays continually, and is mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.Leave a Comment
Encouraging words much needed after a year of isolation. I am so thankful for the blessing of friendship in my sisters in Christ I have been able to stay in touch with.
Robin Dance says
Never have I been more grateful for the virtual tools we have to remain connected; I supposed back in the day, we would’ve at least had a landline. But now, in addition to an old fashioned phone call, we have texts, emails, and FaceTime capability. What gifts! And, yes….friends to stay in touch with ARE a gift!! 🙂
Thank you for reading and leading off in comments today! 🙂
Robert Eiler says
Thank you for the wonderful encouragement! Stay the course Brother and Sister’s.
Always for Gods Glory ☝️
Robin Dance says
Thank you for being the encourager with your words today! May God Bless You! ❤️
Robin Dance says
Awwww…what a joy to give and receive!
Thank you for those words and reminders of the importance of being connected.
Robin Dance says
It is my delight, Madeline. Thank you for reading today and making time to comment! 🙂
Thank-you for your encouragement this morning Robin,
Blessings to all,
Just what I needed to hear though my friends in Christ have helped me stay connected
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Robin thank you for what you wrote so true. We have the best friend ever who will look after us no matter what. That is Jesus. But I am always during the Covid even when I first heard about brought back to story of Jesus feeding 5000 plus people not including the Children that would have been there that day. With 5 loaves and 2 fish. As I was shown one day months back. Through the Holy Spirit this from that story. The people came that day to hear the True King of the world speak. That was the one and only Jesus. They didn’t care about Germs and wearing masks. As in those days probably masks were not heard of. No one was fussy that you had wash your hands. They were all instreasted in hearing Jesus speak that day. Then Jesus told the disciples to tell them all to sit down on the grass. They did as they were told. They didn’t care the people and if there had been kids there that day as I say there would have been. Who was sitting beside who. What insects were on the grass. If the person beside them had washed their hands or if they not washed their hands. If had a cough or running nose especially the kids.They all trusted and knew in their hearts that the Kind of world Jesus that they had come to here that day speak. Would take care of them. If anything was to happen to any of them. Then Jesus bless the food and broke it. It was passed around. All the people and if kids that were there that day ate and were satisfied. Did they care no. Did anything happen to them no. But today if we saw because of Covid someone with dirty hands or they not washed them. They were lifting food to eat we give of. Because we know they not washed them. We not be wanting to eat anything they touched. So who are we putting our trust in? The people that day who went to here the King of the world speak. Didn’t care about Germs. They put their trust in the King of the world. Who was Jesus. As they knew he would let nothing happen to them. So we have the best friend in Jesus who will during this period of time we live in if we put our trust in let nothing happen to us. As the song says. You get it on YouTube. “What a Friend we have in Jesus” we have a wonderful friend in Jesus the best ever. Regards of what is going on in our world at the moment. Jesus loves us we can trust him for everything. We don’t need to get caught up in Germs and Covid. All that is going on with it. We just need to put our trust in Jesus. Thank you for excellent reading. Keep you all incourage in my prayers. Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Susan B Garrett says
I have no doubt that the enemy has used isolation as a weapon against us. Even not seeing smiles has affected us negatively. Lack of corporate worship has been disheartening.
But God has used this time to make death a real possibility for a society who held on to their earthly life without addressing the truth that life is but a breath–that they would die.
Jackson Senjonga, Ugandan minister, had said of the Americans that we “aren’t desperate enough . . addicted to s sprit of ease and comfort “. I think covid has helped to change a lot of that.
Beth Williams says
I didn’t fear the pandemic, civil & political unrest. There is a church sign that says faith is the absence of fear. I know wholeheartedly that God is in control. He decides who will be president & when this pandemic will end. It is Jesus who allows trials in our lives to grow, strengthen us & to woo us back to Him. Just look at Job.
Paul & I could be twins. Missed my church tribe & hugging them. Used my time to pray for & encourage them. Sent emails, texts & cards telling of my love for them. Also made new friends at my in laws church. For a while they were doing Sunday services. I went & got involved. It was my way of staying connected to Christ.
Praising God for computers, Face Time, Zoom & Face Book. Ways to stay connected to one another & not be isolated. We were never meant to be an island. God meant us for community. He wants us to encourage one another consistently.
Lynn Magnsuon says
Beautifully stated Robin…! This will definitely be validating for many, many souls! Keep writing… you are truly gifted!