Yesterday churches throughout America adjusted to the coronavirus epidemic by meeting in their homes or with their families apart from the general assembly. While these measures were taken to prevent the spread of the illness (and wisely so) it was quite an adjustment for many. Technology enabled most of us to connect in some way, allowing us to be with each other in spirit, yet there was still a great yearning in our hearts to actually be together.
Into this context, the words of Psalm 122 are particularly precious:
“I was glad when they said to me,
‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’
Our feet have been standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem!”
Nothing cheers the heart of the saint more than gathering with other believers in worship. Absence truly makes the heart grow fonder, and no doubt the gathering of God’s people will seem more precious in the coming weeks. I pray that many of us are able to meet with small groups in our homes, but even this might be limited due to new restrictions. If this doesn’t break our hearts in some way, then what is the condition of our hearts?
The Psalmist longed for Jerusalem because it was where the great congregation of God’s redeemed people assembled. Within it were memories of feast days, the songs of the worshippers echoing off of the walls, and the roads worn by the frequent footsteps of the devoted. Because of this, the Psalmist longed for the prosperity of this sacred place:
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
“May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.
As Christians, our hearts long for the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22), not only because of the beauty of the place but because of the beauty of the people who will inhabit it. What we experience now within the church is a foretaste of greater glory to come. It is due to this, that our hearts ache when we no longer can spend time together.
The one great blessing that we might take from this experience is that we learn to never take the time we spend with our Christian family for granted. The encouragement we receive, the love we share, the worship we bring—it seems even more precious now that we are apart. When the time comes for us to be together again, we can truly say, “I was GLAD when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’”