When things get really tough (or sometimes only moderately tough), we batten down the hatches and go into survival mode, and cut things out that we feel are an unnecessary drain on our time and resources.
Things like meeting up with our friends. Things like mowing the lawn or washing the car. Things like going to church.
In fact, when life gets tough, often one of the first things to fall off the plate is going to church. And we come to that decision by saying things like, ‘I’m just too tired’, ‘I can’t face it’, ‘I don’t feel like it’, or ‘I’ll go again when things are less hectic’.
Have you ever thought that the better survival tactic, when things get tough, rather than staying away from church, is actually going to church? The truth is, when we least feel like going to church is when we most need to be there.
In Psalm 73, the writer is struggling to make sense of the world around him. He is struggling to understand why those who love God get the short end of the stick, and those who reject God seem to have an easy life. Then he says, ‘But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God…’. (Psalm 73:16-17 ESV)
The times when life is tough are the times when we need to be around Christian friends, when we need to be sitting under God’s Word, when we need to be reminded to praise him for what he has done for us in Christ, and when we need to join in praying for one-another. What we need least is to take ourselves out of all of this.
And when we say, ‘Life is really tough right now, we need to go to church’, we’re teaching our kids that being part of the body of Christ is essential, rather than optional, to living life with Jesus.
Live it: Perhaps you need to ask God for strength when you feel least like coming to church. Maybe you need to reassess your church-going habits so it’s harder to slip out of routine when things are tough. Or maybe you need to get in touch with a friend who you know has been staying away, and encourage them to be at church so they don’t miss out on what they really need in this challenging season.