I recently heard from one of our Fellowship missionaries in Pakistan. In an email to fellow missionaries serving there, he wrote:
“We do understand that in all of this God has not departed and left us to our own. We are people of ultimate hope and God is not going to abandon us. May God use this to cause us and many others to look to Him.”
During this time of upheaval and uncertainly, a good place to look is to Him. Our hope rests only in Him.
A couple of years ago, I was attending a Fellowship staff prayer day. I was in a spiritually lean time due to life’s burdens, and God met me in a remarkable way through a Psalm we had shared earlier in our morning worship time:
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” Psalm 42:5-6 NIV
I realized that I had been subtly putting my hope in other things. My hope is in Jesus — only Jesus. This verse continues to sustain me when my heart inevitably starts to wander.
In times of uncertainty, we can become fearful. God understands. The Bible has many reminders of Him telling His children not to be afraid.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 ESV
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV
Instead, God calls us to be courageous. He calls us to respond in faith and be a witness for Him; to reach out to someone with a word of comfort and encouragement.
Our hope is not found in this world. Augustine reminds us in his writings that hope is found in Christ and the world to come, saying: “As we are saved by hope, so we are made happy by hope. Neither our salvation nor our beatitude is here present, but we ‘wait for it’ in the future, and we wait ‘with patience,’ precisely because we are surrounded by evil which patience must endure until we come to where all good things are sources of inexpressible happiness and where there will be no longer anything to endure.”
Although our security, hope, and happiness are not found in this present world, it is this very hope that propels us to respond to this world, this pandemic, with hope, not fear.
Our attitude toward COVID-19 should be marked by hope and peace, not hysteria and panic.
“Do not be anxious about your life….Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul…” (Matthew 6:25, 10:28 ESV)
We should not comfort ourselves with false information that drives us to selfishness, or panic that causes us to hoard face masks (that health professionals desperately need), soup cans, and toilet paper. We are called to be a light in our society; a light on a hill, obvious to everyone. Our job is to help our neighbours when they are sick; to support business people and help keep our economy going; to support, rather than criticize, our public health practitioners and government officials as they seek to address this crisis with wisdom and compassion. Their recommendations may possibly be imperfect, but we should pray for them.
One Fellowship pastor wrote saying he was asking his people to believe that when we think about the pandemic of 2020, we will recall a time when our church pulled together, got to know each other even more in virtual ways, and got on mission in our community.
Most of us are looking one or two weeks down the road during this pandemic. Let’s also look one and two years from now. How do we want to remember our behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020?