In early adulthood I went that rough spell. You probably did, too, or know someone who has. You’ve gone to school long enough. The job didn’t pan out. The relationship fizzled out. Life just wasn’t off to the start that you anticipated. You feel lost and alone.
One day as I prayed, a word came to me from my brief study of Greek: sunagw, or sunago. I couldn’t remember immediately what it meant. I assumed it was something like, “I comfort you” or “I am with you.” I needed to remember both those truths, so I continued to pray “sunago” with my breath.
Later, I looked up the word. It means “I gather together.” I gather together. God’s word to me was “Susan, I gather together.” More than knowing that God was with me and that God would comfort me, God was going to take the mess of my life, the pain and confusion, and gather me back together. I knew I was to participate in that work too, the gathering together of myself, and nearly 20 years later, I still frequently consider how I work with God to gather myself together.
This word – sunago – and this work – to gather together – give me hope. I’m never too far gone that God can’t gather me back – back to God, back to myself, back to the community of faith.
Biblically, sunago is not used in this personal healing and growth context. It is the verb used when fish are gathered in nets, when wheat is gathered into the barn, when people gather on beaches or mountainsides or gardens. It is used when the early congregations gather to worship. It is used when just two or three gather together in Jesus’ name. God gathers us together. We gather with one another and God is with us.
In spite of division and disagreement in our church, our community, our world– still, we gather together and God is with us. In spite of brokenness within our hearts, among our hearts–still, we gather together and God is with us.
We gather together and wait together. O come, O come Emmanuel, God with us.