May 21, 2020

Separate But Together

Written by Tripp Prince

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – May 21, 2020

As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face. For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, wanted to again and again—but Satan blocked our way. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? Yes, you are our glory and joy! 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20

While we always read Scripture from within a particular context and moment in history, there are times in which it seems almost impossible to not read our present reality into a past moment. For example, when we read St. Paul’s words about being separated from those he loves in person but not in heart, who in 2020 cannot relate to this sentiment? I imagine we have all seen heartwarming images during this pandemic of loved ones who are separated in body, but creatively showing their love and affection for one another in heart. I think of the husband serenading his wife from outside the window of her nursing home, or the parade of cars driving past loved one’s homes on their birthdays or anniversaries. Even when we are forced apart, our hearts remain deeply connected with those we love.

Rightly understood, self-care is an important and even essential part of human flourishing. We must learn to tend to God’s renewing work inside of us as we are remade and reborn as children in his kingdom. And yet, regardless of what we are often told, true joy and fulfillment is not found simply in your own self-satisfaction. There is a greater and deeper life that is only found when we give ourselves away for the good of others. 

Joy is found when we invest in others and see them become the people they are meant to be. Though St. Paul had certainly been personally transformed by the love of God in Jesus, this was not his hope or joy. What was? Seeing that transformation in the lives of his friends. Their new life in Christ was his great joy and source of abiding hope, and it is meant to be ours as well!

In order to know the joy that St. Paul speaks of, you and I must be willing to first do the hard work of living and loving for the sake of others. What does it look like for you to truly give your life away, without expecting anything in return? It is so easy to live out of mixed motives, doing good for another yet still mindful of the benefit that comes back our way. Yet what a gift it would be to long to see someone face to face for no other reason than to see them living life as God made it to be lived, and that alone being for you and me a deep well of unspeakable joy!

Prayer

Father, help us to stay connected in heart even when we are apart from those we love, praying for them and seeking their good, through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Application

In this time of quarantine and pandemic, how can you stay connected in heart even while disconnected in person?


Related Reading

Proverbs 15:13; Matthew 6:21; 1 Corinthians 5:3

Here is a helpful resource during these days of grief, sorrow and uncertainty: A Little Book of Comfort


Post/Tweet today

Joy is found when we invest in others and see them become the people they are meant to be. #WisdomHunters #together #truth #Jesus


Worship Resource

3 minute video – Lauren Daigle: 


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