These are very challenging times and they have come quickly upon us. With the lockdown, people have become more isolated, frightened, lonely, and bored. This has led to increased online engagement as people are homebound and looking at their screens more than ever.
God’s people are weighing in online with many different perspectives on the crisis. There is a rush to report THE REASON, and THE SOLUTION to what God is doing so we can avoid suffering and quickly get out of it. Questions and answers arise, “Is this Pandemic from the devil and it needs rebuking” or “Is it from God and we need repenting?” To be sure some are doing it with the best of intentions while others want the accolades of being some of the first ones to spiritually diagnose the problem and give the easy solution so their online statistics and support will increase.
“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice… with all boldness” (Philippians 2:18)
We don’t know how long this will drag on and what will be the ultimate result, but God’s people can be thankful for something we are all seeing. It was something Paul rejoiced in during His own lockdown/suffering/imprisonment. God had previously showed him, and us, that we will all face tribulations (John 16:11, Acts 9:16). Like Paul we can also “rejoice in our tribulations, knowing that they bring about…” good things (Rom 5:3). Consider something he wrote from prison that we can all be thankful for today.
- Philippians 1:12-21 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, (13) so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, (14) and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. (15) Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; (16) the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; (17) the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives(so their online presence and fame increases), thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. (18) What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice… with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. (21) For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
This was someone who understood the sovereignty/greatness/bigness of God. We see this when he addresses the general public in Athens. He knew God was never at a loss, doesn’t abandon His people in tribulation, rules over the nations and is sovereignly at work in them. The ultimate aim of God’s sovereign work was and is, “they would seek God and find Him.”
- Act 17:26-28 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, (27) that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.
As we face this crisis, we must keep before us God’s revelation that “He works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). Some of these things are beyond our insight right now but we know for certain that He is working towards “filling the earth with His glory” (Genesis 1:26-28, Habbakuk 2:14, Isaiah 2:1-4, Micah 4:1-3, Ephesians 1:22-23).
Like Paul, one thing we can be thankful for during this trial is that there is more communication about Jesus in the public arena than most of us have seen in our lifetime. Social media posts and national leaders are calling for prayer. There is more prayer in workplaces that are still open. Unprecedented numbers of leaders are publishing daily sermons/devotionals online, and people are reaching out to their neighbors. Things about God and Jesus are everywhere!
We know from history that there have been amazing demonstrations of God’s love and propagation of the gospel during difficult seasons. They are refining times (when the heat gets turned up and impurities dealt with). In challenging times people experience a need for something beyond the natural. People’s attention gets captured often causing a sense of the need for God.
While we are uncertain how long this challenge will go on or how severe it will be, at the same time let’s continue to pray for revival and awakening. We can rejoice about all the gospel talk being circulated right now. Let’s pray and live to the end that many will find God and give their lives to follow Christ. May it continue to be like Paul said, “our circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.”
Habakkkuk 3:2 LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.