By Pastor Charles Lee
We are living through an unprecedented and extraordinary time because of COVID-19. The tiny micro-organism has put a stop to many things in our lives—including our school, our work and our regular gatherings. It is time for us to pause and ponder what God is teaching us in this trying season. It will be good and necessary for you personally and for us corporately to ask God what he wants us to learn as followers of Jesus and a church of God. I believe God can use this trying season for at least three benefits: to prove and improve our personal faith, as well as to prepare our church for the next season of faithful ministry.
1. I believe God can use this trying season to prove our faith—whether each of us is truly in the faith. One pastor noted that a good verse for the present crisis is this: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5). If you aren’t acting like a Christian now, then you probably never were one. And you are to attend to that crisis immediately! How are you responding to the crises brought about by COVID-19? Are you responding in faith or in fear? Are you panicking or praying? Yes, you may be shaken up a bit, but if the primary mode of your life is that of fear rather than faith, panic rather than peace, then you will need to ask what you really believe in and who you bank your life on. Do you believe that your life is held by the palm of God’s hand, that your days are numbered by the sovereign God, and that COVID-19 will not change the number of your days? Do you believe that you belong to Jesus and that being with Christ in heaven is far better than being here on earth, but then you are here, because he has placed you on earth for his purpose and his plan to make him known to others (Phil 1:21-24)?
2. I believe God can use this trying season to improve our faith—to sanctify and strengthen our faith in Christ. James 1:2-4 reminds us that we are to “count it all joy, when we meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And [that we are to] let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Paul writes in Romans 5:3-4 that “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope.” Whether it is COVID-19 or any other trials of life we go through, they can be used as God’s means to sanctify us, so that we are transformed into the image of Christ. The crisis of COVID-19 has led many of us to repent of our sins that we had not been aware of before. Repentance will lead to renewal of our heart and resurgence of our faith—to be more aligned to the heart of God and the will of God. For those of us who have faith in Christ, this trial will deepen our faith in him, and build our character into his likeness.
3. I believe God can use this trying season to prepare us as a church for the next season of faithful ministry. As a pastor, this season will show how well (or poorly) I have discipled our people at New Hope. The burden of being tested does not lie solely on the individual members, but also lies in our leadership. Have we as leaders trained and discipled our people well, so that in a season like this our people are persevering in the faith and shining the light of Christ through love and good deeds? This season will reveal the health and depth of our discipleship at New Hope and will help us reflect on how we have prepared ourselves for a day like this and ultimately for the Day of the Lord when we will all stand before Christ for the final judgment. Out of this season we will come to discern what is truly essential in our life and ministry together and choose to invest more on those essentials in the future of our church.
It is a trying season indeed and yet it is not without a purpose. One thing we can be sure of is that God is good and faithful, and will work all things together—including pandemic and pandemonium—for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). That He will use this trying season to not only prove and improve our faith, but also to prepare our church for the future—for the ultimate future of the Day of Christ—when there will be no more diseases or death and when we will live in the fullness of God’s glory without sin, sickness or suffering. Come, Lord Jesus!
This week’s bible reading schedule:
|☐||Sun: Exodus 33, John 12||☐||Thu: Exodus 37, John 16|
|☐||Mon: Exodus 34, John 13||☐||Fri: Exodus 38, John 17|
|☐||Tue: Exodus 35, John 14||☐||Sat: Exodus 39, John 18|
|☐||Wed: Exodus 36, John 15||☐||Sun: Exodus 40, John 19|