As more and more governments and systems are going into lockdown mode and people are becoming increasingly wary of the COVID-19 outbreak, many ask the question “Where is God?”. If we replace “Where is God?” with “What is God teaching me through this?”, the entire perspective changes. Isiah 30: 20-22 reminds us that our God is not hidden, He can be found when we search for Him earnestly. Verses 21-22 are relevant to this time: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, ‘Away with you!’”. I believe the Lord is going to reset our priorities this season for our good, as we yield to Him. Is this a call to prioritize His kingdom and His righteousness? Is this an awakening call to the body of Christ? I am convinced of one thing, only Jesus can fix this!
This Too Shall Pass
The Lord who calmed the storm (Mathew 8:23-27) is still in control of the situation, and believers need to further their faith in God to look at this crisis with a spiritual eye, as the Lord will certainly turn this evil into good. Every crisis changes our personal perspectives and helps us to draw closer to God. Personally, every trial that I have faced in my life has made me into a better human being, a better Christian. Remember, the cry of the children has always moved the heart of God. Psalm 107: 19-20 says, “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.” It’s heartening to see, at this time of trial, that many Christian churches are encouraging believers to examine their own consciences and embrace the savior with passion. We know in the Lord that this corona crisis too shall pass, and we are going to go back to our regular lives sooner or later. The question is “What have we learned from this suffering?” Has it brought a spiritual awakening in me, in my family, in my community, and in the whole world?
What’s It Like To Have The Faith That Conquers Every Fear?
Knowing our God and hosting His presence in our lives will threshold us into overcoming this season of uncertainty with confidence. Remember, Gideon had the courage to trust God and go with just 300 men to fight a far outnumbering army of Midianites. This mighty man of valor routed the enemy by the power of His God (Judges 7). Have you ever wondered how David had the guts to fight Goliath, the giant? As a young boy, David exercised his faith in God, faced challenges boldly in his life, killed lions and bears; those real-life experiences gave him the confidence and courage to kill a bigger enemy, the philistine giant. The prayer of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3) is very powerful and relevant to this crisis-season. They prayed for God to save them from being thrown into the fire, but even if their God would not save them in this way, they still refused to serve any false gods. I am sure these men knew the strength of their God. In this season of corona outbreak and turmoil, I am challenging myself to learn from these mighty men of God in the Bible how to be an overcomer. Jesus asked us to be like small children so that we will trust God with a sincere heart when we meet with trials of various dimensions. Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:17-24 asks us not to callous our hearts, but to be renewed in the spirit and to put on the new self, acquiring true righteousness and holiness. This renewal of our hearts in Christ will bring in a revelation in the Holy Spirit, that it is not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of God that we conquer mountains. Yes, we will overcome this trial too!
Before I joined TMU in June of 2018, I had been teaching at a university in South Korea and had been active in a campus Christian ministry for the foreign students at the university. I enjoyed preaching the good news to those students who were originally from countries like China, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, other east Asian countries, and certain African and European countries. Most of them were unbelievers. Many of those who had accepted Christ had one thing in common: they were all sincerely and deeply in love with the Lord even within the early weeks of their Christian walk. Those who had come from communist countries like China and Vietnam embraced the Lord from the depths of their hearts and dedicated their lives to the Lord within a short period of time. What amazed me was that these new believers were passionately desiring to be transformed to be like Christ as the scriptures say in Romans 6:5-7. They were willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of Christ. When I grow cold in my love toward the Lord, I try to remind myself of the ‘first love’ of those new believers. Now in the midst of crisis, we must ask ourselves, “Are we believers, being caught up in the fancy and frenzy of this world, compromising our ‘first love’ toward God?” To the church at Ephesus, whose members had a zeal for orthodoxy but had lost their first love, Jesus says, “I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev 2:4). This perfect love will indeed cast out fear. Remember, it’s is this LOVE that gives us strength to overcome.
Yes, You Have Dominion As a Believer.
Believers are to operate in the glory of God, to take dominion over everything on the face of earth (Genesis 1:26-28). Such ‘dominion’ becomes a reality only when we are clothed with Christ. Especially in this season of fear and uncertainty, believers are to remind each other that we still have dominion over every force of darkness through Christ Jesus, our Lord. We will resist the ‘doctrine of Balaam’ (Revelation 2:14) that weakens us and will not tolerate it, knowing that a little leaven will leaven the whole lump (Galatians 5:9). During this COVID-19 crisis, we need to be intentional in exercising our authority in Christ, an authority available through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, for if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31).
How Prepared Are We To Face Trials In Life?
The scriptures remind us that we will have trouble on earth, but we can have confidence that Christ has overcome this world (John 16:33). It is our faith in Christ that will get us through the difficulties. During tough times, many people tend to doubt and turn their backs to God. In Matthew 24:10, Jesus shares with his disciples that many will turn away from the faith, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. How is it humanly possible to stand strong during the stormy trials of life? Jesus promises to be with us always, to the end of the age (Mathew 28:20). Revelation 12:11 states, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” I am challenging each one of us to gear up and be confident!
An Intimate Relationship With God Helps Us Face Trials In Life.
Preaching the gospel among unbelievers for over a decade has helped me experience and better understand other faiths. Many people worship a god or some kind of power, wholly out of fear. Others worship a god(s) or nature to satisfy their physical needs in life. Christianity is not just a religion but a relationship where the believers enter into a personal relationship with the creator God. And this God lives in the hearts of every believer. Though we do not fully understand the holiness and glory of our God, the Holy Spirit reveals His love to us when we seek Him with a humble and true heart. The key is our personal relationship with the father in heaven, who went to the extent of sending Jesus to save sinful humankind (John 3:16). I often ask God in my personal prayers, ‘How can I pay that love back?’ I always feel privileged to experience His loving kindness and faithfulness that never ends. For Christian believers, it’s this love-relationship with God that helps us push through difficulties in life. The Bible says that the spirit gives life (1 Corinthians 3:6) and we can do nothing without Him. The Lord reiterates our relationship with Him just like branches to the vine. As long as the branches are connected to the main vine, they produce abundant fruits (John 15:1-8). Pruning, though painful, helps the vine to bear much fruit. We don’t want to be like the disciples who deserted Jesus, saying that His teachings were hard (John 6). They deserted Him because their hearts were hardened. Remember, narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Mathew 7:14).
Though I was born in a devout Christian family, I never knew the Lord personally until I was fifteen. When the Spirit began revealing Himself to me, it was into a whole new realm of faith that God led me. I began experiencing true love in Christ since then. “loving God and worshipping Him in spirit and truth” began to make more sense to me. This knowledge in Christ has helped me win battles and overcome mountains in my life in past years. Knowing Christ and experiencing His pure love makes it worth living for Him and dying for Him. Superficial faith may not help us overcome when trials hit us hard. We are called to enjoy His peace and be hopeful in storms (Mark 4:38). This comes only though an intimate relationship with our Savior. In that realm of pure love, testing of our faith produces perseverance (1 John 1:2-3). Our faith must be tested so that we will become mature and complete. Faith is like a spiritual muscle that needs to be exercised just as we must develop our body muscles with physical exercise. It is this faith that will sustain us during the trials of the last days (2 Timothy 3:1). Hosting His presence will empower us to face the tribulations that are to come (Mathew 24).
As we are being careful to do everything that the state and federal authorities ask us to do to curb the COVID-19 outbreak, let us also do whatever we can to help those affected. Let’s pray for the families and institutions affected and be proactive in declaring the hope that can only be found in Christ. Be the one who brings encouragement, healing, and strength to others.
Dr. Diby Paul is an Associate Professor of Biology at TMU.Return to Blog Archive