Harsh Realities for Such a Time as This
I cannot remember a time in my life when the world was more consumed with worry. Fears over health and finances dominate the news and public discourse. If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has exploded the nagging uncertainties of everyday life into existential threats. What if I get sick and can't work? What if I lose my job? How will I provide for my family?
God's people have not been immune to the concerns associated with this crisis. The same questions that plague our culture hang over our heads, as well. The difference is that our hope is not rooted in this world. We understand, like the apostle Paul, that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18). We face all the same pressures as the world, but our hope in Christ means we don't experience them the same way. In fact, in the midst of difficult circumstances and fierce trials, God's people have reason to be the most joyful, confident, and thankful.
Why? Several factors come to mind. First, when storms rage around us and there seems to be little to hang onto, our perspective turns heavenward. Harsh trials and adverse conditions should cause us to abandon our own resources and draw on God's. People who seek the temporary comfort and fulfillment of the world are the ones who lose out; their search for lasting satisfaction will always come up empty. But if your circumstances drive you to look to God for fulfillment, you will be satisfied beyond anything the world can offer.
The hardships you face also present a unique opportunity for the Lord to display His glory in your life. Whenever you get to the place where you can't go any further, that's when the Lord demonstrates His sufficient power in a way that defies human effort. The greater your weakness, the greater His glory. His best work is most evident when we can do nothing. What a precious treasure it is, when we are discouraged and disappointed, to see God's glorious provision on display. I thank God for that. I trust you do, too.
You can also thank the Lord for difficulties because they frequently drive us to deeper communion with Him. In my experience, the richest feasts in prayer come when the rest of life seems like a famine. It's in the extreme hardships of life that we most fully recognize our dependence on God and the necessity of going to Him in prayer. Perhaps more than anyone else, the person drawn into a more intimate relationship with God has reason to be thankful, stable, and even joyful in the midst of trials.
While we understand that those attitudes should mark our response to difficulty and suffering, they are not always our first reaction—even for mature believers. God's people must be faithful to cultivate and practice those godly virtues if we want them to stand firm when trials inevitably arrive. How you react to hardship is often your most revealing testimony to the world—louder and clearer than any words you might say. For the believer, allow the biblical narrative to give us insight and practical tools to help you think about and react to trials in a way that points others to the source and foundation of your confident, abiding joy—the Lord Jesus Christ.
At a time when the world is dominated by worry, fear, and hopelessness, we point people to the only true source of hope. It's no accident that God has called us to the work of His kingdom in these dark and troubled days.
Throughout the pandemic, I've reflected several times on the perfection of God's timing and provision. How He has established resources for your church to supply spiritual nourishment for His people while churches are prohibited from meeting, and how the teaching of His Word and the good news of His gospel is reaching everywhere the virus goes—and beyond. For those of you using different media outlets you’ve seen a dramatic increase in traffic to your website. I am also hearing that listeners to your Facebook page is up. People are looking to God's Word for answers they can't get from the news, the government, or the various voices dominating pop culture.
Thank you for partnering with other churches to meet the many spiritual needs that are around us here in Southeast, TN. Thanks to the gracious sacrifices of friends like you, we are helping to make a difference. Thank you for your part in the work of God through CrossNet Baptist Network. With your help, we’re helping many navigate the huge challenges of the day.
In His Grace,