Before launching into his sermon yesterday, my pastor looked directly into the camera lens to speak to the people who watched online. He acknowledged those of us physically present with him, and asked us to grant him a moment to address those who were not in the building—specifically those who could have been seated there with us but chose not to because of the pain in their lives. Whether they’d been hurt by people or felt like God had hurt them, they watched from home because it was a safe way to engage at a distance.
My heart ached as I recalled seasons when I felt either unwelcome or unwilling to engage in church:
- The weeks following the Sunday morning I broke down in tears while leading worship for the first time after my son died, only to hear of angry comments spewed by fellow worshippers offended by my uncontrolled display of emotion from the platform.
- The time I was falsely accused by a high-ranking member of a congregation who had the power and position to turn the opinions of respectable, godly people against me.
- The morning I knew I would never return to the church I’d been attending but had no idea where else to go.
I nodded in agreement as my pastor looked into the camera and said, “God has healing for you. God has hope for you. God has life for you beyond the hurt and pain that is so real and that you’re experiencing right now.”
I’m extremely thankful I didn’t let pain drive me away from God or from fellowship with other believers. If you’re feeling unwelcome or unwilling to engage in church, I sincerely hope and pray you don’t stay away for long. In the meantime, try memorizing the words of Jesus in today’s memory verse. You can be assured that Jesus will never reject you. He never stands at a distance and always offers a safe place to engage.
Today’s Memory Verse:
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