Our ages, backgrounds, and life experiences have much to do with how we deal with adversity. Simply put, some of us have “been through it.” This year has unquestionably been defined by adversities. The pandemic has altered the way we eat, shop, congregate, go to church, learn, and even work to a large extent. Many of us have felt confounded as to how to cope, and how to manage a life unlike anything we have ever lived.
Prior to the pandemic, we thought we were prepared for anything since we are more technologically advanced than any other generation in history. However, this season has forced us to call upon an older generation who knows a thing or two about coping in the face of “tragedy.” Members of this seasoned generation should make it a point to be a source of calm wisdom for those who are struggling. Let's consider some ways.
Reflect on Past Struggles and Endurance
A few months ago, someone shared on Facebook a very interesting fact scenario to illustrate the importance of perspective. The post asked the reader to imagine being born in 1900. This hypothetical person had to deal with the start of World War I at the age of 14 with 22 million people dying, another 50 million succumbing to the Spanish Flu for the next six years, and the Great Depression at the age of 29 with 25% unemployment.
World War II would start before you turned 40 with 75 million people perishing before its conclusion. Small pox would soon follow, killing 300 million, and then came the Korean War at age 50 when another 5 million died.
At age 55, the Vietnam War would begin and would not end until he or she was 75. Even though we don’t have the privilege of having many 120-year-olds among us for personal perspective, we still have older generations who are able to give us calmness, wisdom, and reassurance in the midst of our “year of chaos.” We are privileged to still have a few WWII veterans among us and even more people around us who lived through the polio epidemic, political uncertainty, and racial discrimination.
Even more prevalent are those of us who have experience from other life adversities, financial uncertainties, seasons of ill health, or other personal struggles. Because of this weathering, we are able to pass along wisdom, and words of comfort found in our spiritual anchor Christ.
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Remind Others that God Is Always in Control
Christ was there in times of windfall, just as He is now in times of uncertainty and distress. His promises found in His word do not contain limitations written in fine-print in times of tragedy or pandemic. His truths are not limited or confined to any particular circumstance.
We tend to tell ourselves we can control everything with our earthly wisdom and physical strength. For example, we should be able to control our employment stability with a strong work ethic; or, we will be healthy to a ripe old age if we eat right and exercise regularly. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an exception to all of these presumed rules.
The mature believer has a duty to give a younger generation and a confused people the sage advice that God is always in control.
Remember in Matthew 8:23-27 that the disciples did not call upon the Lord until they were in the midst of a great storm on the sea. They could handle persecution from the world and spiritual self-doubts. But a natural storm was quite another matter—needing the special calming ability of our Lord.
The storm battering our world today did not take our Lord by surprise. We must learn to desire His comfort and provision from the onset. We need to look for guidance before the first dark cloud or drop of rain. When we abide in his presence in the drought, then we can have a greater appreciation for our abode when the rainbow surrounds it.
We must convey to the younger generation that not everything is to be seen or scientifically understood. We are told that this disease and our personal discomfort therefrom are being caused by the angst of God who is judging a sinful people. We are prescribed that social distancing and the wearing of facial coverings will eliminate or flatten the curve within a matter of weeks. God’s word in Hebrews 11:3 assures us that “by faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” Thus, we must realize an invisible virus is not out of the province of God’s protection.
Rest Assured God Is Unshakable
God’s glory is to be manifested despite our current circumstances and seeming hopelessness. Both mental and physical rest has been escaping each of us during this season of pandemic. All of our comforts have been destroyed or at least shaken to a state of doubt. However, we have an unshakable Lord who is not asleep at the wheel or unconcerned about his children. In Psalms 121:4 we are assured that the same God who kept Israel “will neither slumber nor sleep” on his watch over this generation.
We are to be spiritually guided and not solely dependent on what government leadership tells us. We have heard a myriad of prescribed courses of action to prevent or lessen our chances of contracting coronavirus. We were originally advised facial masks were not effective, and then they were mandated days later.
We were told our mail needed to be sanitized because the virus could live varying periods of time on porous and non-porous surfaces. Lowe’s and Walmart were packed with shoppers while our churches and schools were shut down for safety concerns. Liquor stores were deemed to be essential, while our local eateries were forced to close for months. Studies were released to support a notion that congregational singing is a dangerous church activity because of increased droplets thrust in the air.
Believers are to respectfully follow the rules of government unless such mandates are inconsistent with our obligations to God. However, in Acts 5:29, “Peter and the apostles answered, ‘we must obey God rather than men’” when chided with the allegations of preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus.
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Cast Your Cares on the Comforter
We are to go to our Savior in times we feel overwhelmed and overcome by the events of our world.
In Matthew 11:28-30, He tells us to “come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Today, we have a society that is laboring while living underneath the heavy cloak of civil unrest, political division, financial uncertainty, and fears of a relatively unknown virus. Only our Lord has the provision for transition toward ease, rest, and comfort. His rest is not specified or limited. Our Lord has the ability and is willing provide respite for our heart, soul, conscience, and mind. We have this confidence because He has proven his limitless capabilities over and over again.
Our Lord is fully capable and willing to comfort us. The prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 59:1 proclaims, “behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear.” Thus, no matter how far we might feel away from our God, he still has the same reach which was able to save us from the mire of sin. Further, God’s word assures us that no matter how loud the noise of the world, his ear is still able to hear our cries of needs and our petition for comfort. Additionally, God’s hand is strong and big enough to keep us. In John 10:28, He gives us the promise that, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of hand.”
Embrace that Today's Pain is Eclipsed by Tomorrow's Promise
Reality is also a comfort for the believer. We are never promised that things will get better here as we traverse earth in our mortal flesh. In 2 Timothy 3:12-13, it is revealed that believers “will be persecuted, while evil people and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” However, God has prepared us an unimaginable place of eternal abode.
Paul reminded the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “it is written, ‘things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.’” God’s word at Hebrews 11:16 explains, “but as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” for those who are not ashamed to call God their God; “for He has prepared a city for them.”
Thus, it is unrealistic for us to believe our temporary home on earth will ever be made convenient for the believer. We are to have a desire for this heavenly abode which he has prepared for us who have placed faith upon his Son. Consequently, we should have a want for those around us to be among this heavenly citizenship.
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Encourage Repentance and Faith
We are to advise those around us of the importance of self-reflection to diagnose any sin within our own lives. No spiritual calmness will ever be realized when our spiritual relationship with God has the obstruction of sin. Sin prevents us from having a close relationship with God. Our prayers are not effective when unrepented sin separates us from our Heavenly Father.
Isaiah 59:2 warns, “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” Our own personal desires for wealth and worldly success have given birth to these sins. James 1:14-15 tells us that this sin will progress and “when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Thus, the prescribed advice of the seasoned believer to the world is to be careful as this path is a dangerous course.
We are living in an age and season when the “wisdom of the weathered” is greatly needed to ease the burdens of a troubled people. Many of our lives have been drastically changed and our circumstances permanently altered by the effects of COVID-19. The spiritually mature have the responsibility to assure the troubled and the lost that the only comfort is found by God’s wisdom, promises, and eternal presence.
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Chad Napier is a believer in Christ, attorney at law, wannabe golfer, runner, dog lover, and writer. He enjoys serving his church as a deacon and Sunday School teacher. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and at his golf devotion par3sixteen.com. He and his wife Brandi reside in Tennessee with their canine son Alistair.