The last few weeks have been difficult for so many of my friends. From the loss of loved ones to scary medical news, it’s been rough. The thing that pulled me into reality is the fact that each piece of news came out of nowhere. I’ve always known this is the case with tragedy, most times. Tragedy doesn’t typically call and say that it’s coming to visit. Instead, it kicks in the door and ravages everything in it’s path.
It’s inevitable. No one is immune. Tragedy will come violently crashing into your’s or a loved one’s life. In that moment there is little that can be said to comfort or make sense of it. In those moments, sometimes the best possible answer is to simply be with the one that is hurting.
Jesus said “For wherever two or three are gathered in My name, there I Am in the midst of them.” Let me first point out that the “I Am” Jesus used is the same one that God used with Moses and the same one He routinely used to identify Him and The Father as one. He was telling us that HE, the presence and power of God, would be in the midst of them. Secondly, let me clarify that Him saying this doesn’t mean that He isn’t present when we’re by ourself, He is. He meant that He honors the gathering. I’ve said this a number of times before and I’ll continue to say it; we can experience Jesus in all His glory and completeness when we’re alone, but there is something different that happens when we gather. As the saints gather together, there’s a fullness in Christ, through that community, that cannot be experienced any other way. Because Jesus loves His church, because He honors the gathering, He shows up in a different way bringing with Him a fullness that is nearly undefinable. The gathering is important, but not just for Sunday morning service. The part that we rarely talk about is that this promise isn’t reserved solely for celebration. Jesus’ promise isn’t relegated to happy moments of singing while we gather in a building for an hour every week.
I would offer that as much as Jesus’ promise is for celebrating together, it’s more for when we gather to mourn together. When we gather in two or three to grieve and mourn, Jesus is in the midst of that; present with all the power and presence of God. In those times He brings a fullness that is translated through His people into His peace and comfort. In that we are encouraged and reminded to hope in Him; to cling to His completeness and enoughness.
Corporate grieving is just as important as corporate celebration. We see it throughout the bible. There are so many times in the Old Testament that it says Israel gathered and mourned as a nation. After Jesus was crucified many of the disciples were together, mourning, when Mary told them the tomb was empty. Gathering together to mourn will look different for different people, but it’s still an element of Gospel-centered community that can’t be dismissed. We gather to encourage and remember Jesus’ promises. Promises like, He has overcome the world, He will wipe our tears, He is with us, and He will return. In Him there is all hope.
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