I Hope You're Sick

Keith Newell

It is not often someone says with all sincerity, “I hope you’re sick.” Yet, I am told that is exactly what my great-grandfather Harry DeLong proclaimed on more than one occasion. Harry (called “Pop” by everyone who knew him), along with his brother Charlie and their respective families, were instrumental in planting the Lord’s church in DuBois, Pennsylvania. I now have the privilege of serving this congregation as the full-time preacher.

Pop DeLong passed away when I was just a young boy. I was fortunate to have known my great-grandfather, even if it was for just a short time. I personally do not recall Pop DeLong’s wishing for anyone to be sick. However, some members of our congregation who knew him for a long time tell me it is, indeed, true. What kind of man would say such a thing? Let me tell you.

He desired to be obedient in all of God’s word. Sadly, many in society would probably consider him “too strict” or “too rigid” in his obedience. His boldness to speak the truth of the gospel anywhere and anytime would likely be considered today as “arrogant” or “exclusive.” He also expected his fellow brethren to be faithful in their service of God. If they were living contrary to God’s word, he was not afraid to tell them. I am sure at times he was accused of being judgmental or “prying into other people’s business.” 

Yet, despite what people may have thought about his actions, no one doubted his sincere love for the Lord and His church. In fact, it was his love for Almighty God that made this good Christian man wish people were sick. Confused? Please read on.

In a small congregation, it was easy to see when members were absent from the worship service or Bible class. Keep in mind; years ago people rarely missed services on account of their job because most businesses closed on Sundays (emergency personnel such as doctors, nurses, police, etc. excluded). Therefore, in all of my great-grandfather’s wisdom, the only legitimate excuse for missing worship services or any other “church function” was sickness. Thus, he would proclaim to the congregation, “I see we’re missing some of our members today. I hope they’re sick!” 

Hebrews 10:24, 25: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

If we are commanded “not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together,” why does attendance drop significantly from Sunday morning to Sunday evening services? Why are there such low turnouts for mid-week Bible study? Furthermore, why are Sunday morning Bible classes lightly attended compared to the morning worship hour? You may not like the answer, but the reason for unfaithful attendance is a lack of love. Many claim to love God, but it does not show in their lives!

Jesus said to His followers, in John 14:15, "If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Do YOU love Jesus? The inspired Apostle John also wrote in 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” Do YOU love God? If you love Him, why are you not obeying His commandments? Why do you forsake the worship services? Possibly you do love God and His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ, but only when it is convenient for you. Unfortunately, that means you love the world, too. God tells us it is impossible to serve two masters. See Matthew 6:19ff and Romans 8:5-9. 

If you are my brother or sister in Christ, I exhort you to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). If you place God and the church first in your life, then you will be faithful in your attendance. 

If you are not present when the saints meet, well … “I hope you’re sick!” -501 Orient Ave., DuBois, PA 15801. coc@dubois.org

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