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Times of Trial

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Facing Times of trial

During the last few months we have had a few new words added to our vocabulary, Coronavirus, Covid-19 and self-isolation, to name but a few. I know that previously these weren’t words I spoke about or even heard of.

However, as of late every conversation seems to include them. Moreover, they are causing fear, confusion, anxiety and in practical terms they have caused isolation, loneliness and in some cases want.

As Christians living in a society gripped with fear and confusion, a society forced to isolate and change our way of life, how can we react to this situation we have found ourselves thrust into? Where can we find hope, instruction and assurance? I hope anyone who is a believer reading this article has already answered these rhetorical questions, the answer of course is the Bible.

Hope

Where is your hope found? As we face this virus head on how can you say you have hope? In the midst of death, illness, confusion and turmoil as we watch health systems around the world collapse, how can we have hope? The apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter chapter 1 verse 1, “to those who are elect exiles,” and so here we see Peter is writing to God’s elect.  This means that from before the beginning of time God has chosen us to be redeemed and saved from His wrath.  If that wasn’t enough, Peter continues on to tell those who are God’s elect that they, “have been born again to a living hope,” (v.3). 

When you think to a time before this virus, what were your hopes and dreams? I know I had plenty and most of them involved time with family or improving my career. Maybe spending more time in a hobby. I wonder now where those hopes are as you face lockdown, illness or maybe even death? The point here is that the hopes of men are dead and no hope we have can be sure, unless it is the hope that is found in the atoning death of our Lord and Saviour.

God has called us out of our bondage to sin and set us upon a rock, a firm foundation from which we cannot topple. We need to keep our eyes on Christ though the midst of the turmoil, we need to focus on how through the sprinkling of his blood we have been saved. As we think how the Jews in Egypt, who sprinkled the lintels of their houses with the blood of animals that had been sacrificed to escape the coming wrath of God, they had to be ready to go, they had to be ready to leave. As God’s people today are we ready to leave, are we hoping for Christ’s return? Is our hope found in seeing our Saviour face to face! The time we now have in this situation we have found ourselves in isn’t all bad. For one, it has allowed us to remove a lot of distractions that fill up our time, distractions that we chased in pursuit of our man made hopes. With this free time and with the sorrow, fear and confusion that has gripped so many, it is allowing us to re-evaluate what is really important in the life of the believer.

Instruction

The believer isn’t without instruction, the Bible is the believer’s road map to life. In the Bible we can look back at the ceremonial laws that many in the Old Testament had to adhere to, we can see the moral laws that still stand for the instruction of the believer today. If your are saved the Bible leads you on a path of sanctification as you meditate daily on God’s word. 

In 1 Peter, the apostle is writing to those suffering persecution for being Christians. He explains in chapter 3 verse 14 that they are suffering for their faith, for being righteous in honouring Christ as Lord. Peter then instructs the elect not fear but trust in God for His blessing throughout this time. The same applies to the believer today, fear not, trust in God, He will bless you.

Sometimes our human nature can get in the way of this, when we see this disease rip through countries with no regard to age, race, gender or even “religion” we can tend to question God, we can ask why he is letting this happen? As we see things go from bad to worse our dependance must be on God, we need to put our trust in the skills he has given our health service, we can also use the wisdom of the scientists and take our instruction from them by washing our hands and taking precautions so we don’t get infected. All of these are sensible approaches and something we must continue to do, but there is a greater priority, the priority to come to God remembering the sacrifice of his son for sinners like you and me. We can meditate on His word daily, trust in Him for your protection but ultimately live our life in the hope we have in Christ. Live our lives knowing God is in control and as Romans 8:28 say, “all things work together for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.”  We should then come humbly to God in prayer; repenting of our sins; asking for his protection from this awful disease; asking that he would heal those that are sick and strengthen those health workers on the frontline both physically and mentally as they deal with things more akin to a war zone than a modern day health service. 

As we face our communities whether it is online, talking to a neighbour over the fence or at a safe distance or as we see people in a shop let’s show them this hope that we have. Let’s show them that we are fully trusting in a sovereign God who is fully in control and has the best intentions towards the people he has called. 

But as we do show this hope, be prepared to give an answer for this hope that people see in you. As we continue to fully trust in Christ and the world around us fears death, we can tell them why we have this hope!! Tell them of the assurance we have through the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ!!! We need to know scripture inside out, as we study more we know God more. We get to see his character and we build a relationship with him, through our prayers and reading. 

Assurance

As I have watched this situation evolve one thing which has stood out is the confusion that Covid-19 has brought with it. It started with people panic buying toilet roll, then tinned goods until a lot of everyday essentials became hard to come by. Governments took different approaches, some said we need to continually test while others said that this was less important. Right from the start of this pandemic confusion has reigned.

For the believer, everyday practical life can still be just as confusing, as we attempt to navigate this time practically we can be shoved from pillar to post on best practices to keep ourselves safe or what to purchase in the shops. For the believer though, the difference is that amid all this confusion we have an assurance. 1 Peter 3 verse 18 say, “Christ died once for sin.” We know the task of redemption for the elect is finished. Christ came to the earth, lived a perfect and righteous life, and died for the unrighteous sinner. Unlike the sacrifices in the Old Testament, Christ’s death didn’t need to be repeated day after day or year after year. Christ’s death on the cross was an acceptable, atoning death to God the Father. That is the assurance we have, our sins have been paid, not by anything we have done but by Christ the Righteous one who died for us the unrighteous. If Covid-19 gets a grip on you and the worst happens, we are assured that we will look upon our Saviour’s wounds from that fateful day at Calvary as we spend eternity with Him. 

I wonder as you face this disease or maybe even when it has passed and maybe years later you read this article, where is your hope found? Is it found in man-made temporal pleasures, or is it set upon the firm foundation that is Christ? Where is your instruction found? Do you have something that can guide you fully through life? I can assure you that you do.

The Bible is accessible to most people now, but I wonder do you take heed of this guide that has be given to you? As you face uncertain times do you look to the Bible to bring certainty into your life? Finally, where is your assurance found? Is it found in your health service, your wealth or your career? Other countries that have been decimated by this virus prove that nothing on earth can bring us assurance. For the ultimate assurance you need to recognise your sin before a Holy God, you need to see yourself as God sees you. As you see your need, look to God who has provided the remedy for your situation in the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Andrew McKenzie

Deacon