Shalom everyone; The last few weeks have been, needless to say, challenging. Nevertheless, I'm glad to report that, as of today, I haven't heard of any new cases of sickness since
The last few weeks have been, needless to say, challenging. Nevertheless, I’m glad to report that, as of today, I haven’t heard of any new cases of sickness since I addressed you last Friday. That being said, we still have several folks who are recovering or dealing with the aftermath of being bed ridden for several days. To my knowledge, no one in our local group is in the hospital, and as far as I know, everyone who was sick is steadily improving. Let us continue to pray for them and do what we can to lend them assistance and encouragement. Let us also continue pray and believe that no one else will come down with this virus.
As I said, it seems that everyone is improving, albeit, some at a slower pace than others. We also have the issue of family members who haven’t been sick but who were caretakers for those who were. Considering that we have had somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 — 20 families who were affected by this sickness within a 2 — 3 week span, and that for some it was quite debilitating, I think it is prudent to wait one more week before we meet again. My thinking is, by next weekend, anyone who was exposed would have already shown signs of falling ill.
If I’m going to make a mistake in this process, I would much rather it be on the side of caution and consideration of those who might be more vulnerable physically. So in order to do what we can to minimize the chance of new cases, we will not meet again until next Shabbat, August 7. I realize that this will not set well with some and there may even be calls for my head upon a stick but, still, I think this is the wisest course of action.
There has, in fact, been a tad of criticism about my decision. Some have asked “Why don’t you just trust God and meet anyway?” First of all, everyone should know my position on this situation hasn’t changed since the COVID outbreak first began last year. In April 2020, in accordance with the governor’s mandate to limit public meetings to ten people or less, we live streamed services without an audience. As soon as the mandate expired, we went back to meeting just as before and have continued since then with only a couple of interruptions.
Then and now, my position is that we should not live in fear of a virus nor hide behind a mask but should trust the Father to protect us if we are doing His will. I haven’t changed my mind about that one iota. I stated then, and reaffirm now, that we would continue to assemble, and if affected by sickness, we would deal with it the best we know how — with wisdom and common sense. That is what we are now doing — dealing with circumstances that living in a fallen world sometimes presents us, hopefully in a wise and reasonable way.
The name attached to this virus has nothing to do with my decision. If a stomach bug or the common flu was having the same impact on our congregation as we have recently experienced I would take the same course of action I am following now. I’ll put it this way: I do not live in fear of hungry bears. I don’t think about them when I leave my house and go to the grocery store. I don’t arm myself every day thinking I might run across a hungry bear. However, if I were to encounter one standing in my path, unlikely as that may be, I would be foolish to confront him. Wisdom says that I should respect the hungry bear, even if I don’t fear him, because he has the potential to make life difficult. So then, I am more than happy to give him a wide berth and let him block my path, temporarily, knowing that he will soon move on and allow me to get back to my business.
I don’t fear a virus but when it is in my neighborhood affecting my friends and family, I should certainly respect that it has the potential to do some damage. This is why I am willing to be frustrated, temporarily — in the hope that we can soon resume our meetings, unfettered by sickness or a concern for becoming sick. Frankly, the circumstances of these last couple of weeks have weighed heavily upon me and I have not approached this with a cavalier attitude. I realize that decisions I make can, to some degree, affect people’s lives. I don’t take that lightly. Recent conversations have more than amplified that truth for me.
This week I spoke with several people who were suffering in one way or the other. A couple of our local family members had to make trips to the ER; one had to be admitted and others were sent home to rest. (Once again, as far as I know, we no longer have any local members in the hospital). I also spoke to members of our online family, many miles away, who were suffering. One lady had contracted the virus and unknowingly passed it on to someone she was caring for. That person got sick and is now in ICU on a ventilator. I spoke to another lady from our online community who, along with her husband, recently got sick with the virus and unknowingly passed it on to her elderly parents. Both of her parents died last week within a two day period of one another. Why am I telling you this? Certainly not to generate fear of a virus but, hopefully, to generate greater compassion for those who are suffering because of this virus and other issues.
Not all of the recent suffering is COVID related. There are families who are walking through crises of a different sort. Just this past Shabbat, our brother, Neal Webb, lost his battle with cancer and passed from this life. Neal had moved his family from North Carolina to Tennessee in order to be part of our JT family. He and his wife, Lyn, were building a house so that they could settle in and become an integral part of Jacob’s Tent. Sadly for us, that will not be the case. So, let us all remember Lyn and the rest of the Webb family in prayer as they deal with this new season in their lives.
Still, in spite of all that has transpired recently and all that is ongoing, the Jacob’s Tent family has been blessed in so many ways including good health. To date, He has shielded us from death and the fear and uncertainty that has affected so many in this world. Now, for whatever reason, the Father has allowed us to be touched by circumstances that remind us of the corruption that surrounds us. For some, the experience has been devastating. For most of us it has only been inconvenient. Whatever its affect on us individually or corporately, there must be a reason beyond the fact that people get sick and sometimes die.
As the children of Israel journeyed through the wilderness, the different stops along the way brought different challenges, different lessons and, yes, different blessings. As we journey together, we should expect the same. Different stops along the way will bring different experiences, but all of them — if we allow — will bring growth and maturity. At the very least, I believe He will cause something good to come from something not so good. If nothing else, He has given us the impetus to demonstrate what it really means to love one another — and let me say, that the Jacob’s Tent family has demonstrated that in a magnificent way.
So then, more than anything else, I want to encourage everyone. Let’s all look inwardly and discern what we can learn — what we needed to learn — from this experience. We will need that new found wisdom in the trials yet to be encountered. Let’s also look ahead to the good things the Father has for us after the sadness and inconvenience of this trial. Let’s continue to be compassionate and considerate of each other because if we are “partakers of the sufferings,” we will also “partake of the consolation.” Finally, because we have so much to be thankful for, let us take the time to express our gratitude to our loving and beneficent Father. He is good and His mercy endures forever!
God willing, we will see everyone again on August 7.
We will rebroadcast last year’s service on Shabbat.
(Saturday) 11:00 am - 5:00 pm